Assignment-based Assessment

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ASHS Albany Senior High School Prospectus Shoot, Albany Auckland, Monday 21st June 2010. Photo: Shane Wenzlick

ASHS Albany Senior High School Prospectus Shoot, Albany Auckland, Monday 21st June 2010. Photo: Shane Wenzlick

The FSD uses cognitive and practical skills testing in many of our courses that lead to certification. However, in some cases, requisite knowledge items and Job Performance Requirements (JPRs) would be difficult to assess that way. Consequently, some of our courses are either exclusively or primarily assignment/project-based. Like with other forms of assessment, a student’s performance must be measured against the applicable NFPA® standard and not relative to the performance of other learners. Again, like with other forms of assessment, assignments/projects must always be graded by an evaluator distinct from the instructor who facilitated the course.

The exact nature of assignments varies considerably, as each is purposefully designed to allow students the opportunity to demonstrate specific knowledge and skills. However, the majority of our assignments are writing-based. This may include tasks such as writing a report, drafting a policy, or completing a research project, etc. Regardless of the specific assignment, however, JIBC expects students to use the APA (American Psychological Association) Style of citing references. To support students, faculty and staff, the Institute hosts a website with information on APA. JIBC’s Library has also developed an APA Citation Guide, as well as pointers on Getting Started with APA Style. If you are evaluating written assignments, it is imperative that you familiarize yourself with APA so that you can accurately assess that aspect of students’ submissions.

In order to support evaluators in the assessment of project or assignment-based work, assignments are typically accompanied by a marking rubric. A rubric is a tool that clearly indicates marking criteria. It can be used not only for marking assignments, but also for grading class participation or online discussion board posts. As valuable as these tools are for our evaluators, however, they are equally valuable for our students because they clearly lay out expectations. This transparency naturally equips students to maximize their own chances of success. Remember that rubrics serve as a guide; as an evaluator, you are encouraged to also offer students meaningful feedback or constructive comments that do not necessarily fit within a rubric’s set criteria.

On the following page, you will find sample rubrics for various components of a course that could be assessed.

Note that in order to enhance the validity and reliability of our assignment-based evaluation, Program Managers regularly review students’ submissions and the grades assigned by our evaluators. Just as the FSD conducts item analysis relative to our written exams, a similar (though less statistical) approach is taken toward assignments, and changes to assignments and/or rubrics are made as appropriate. As an evaluator, your comments and feedback on course content and assessment mechanisms is always welcome. Additionally, should you ever have questions about how best to respond to students’ work, your JIBC Manager or Coordinator is on hand to guide you. Again, you are an indispensable part of our evaluation, certification and accreditation processes.