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If you're looking for a course evaluation method that puts the student's knowledge to work, then you should try the alternative assessment method. This method of assessment is about getting students to show how much they have learned by executing tasks. 

Unlike traditional evaluation methods that only assess the student's knowledge, alternative assessment spurs the student to wear his or her thinking hat, and creatively apply the knowledge to solve a problem. Concept maps, portfolios, and open-tests are some familiar examples of alternative assessments. 

What is Alternative Assessment? 

This is a method of evaluation that measures a student’s level of proficiency in a subject as opposed to the student’s level of knowledge. The overall goal of alternative assessment is to allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and execute tasks.   

Alternative assessment is also called a performance test or authentic assessment because it is deeply rooted in one’s ability to do something by leveraging newly-gained knowledge. As part of the assessment, the student will need to perform meaningful tasks that reflect a clear understanding of the teaching and learning objectives.  

You can ask your students to create a portfolio, work with others on specific projects or engage in any other type of activity that shows they have a full grasp of what has been discussed in the class or training.  

alternative-assessment-meaning

Characteristics of Alternative Assessment 

To better understand what alternative assessment is, let’s first look at some of the things alternative assessment is not. 

  1. Alternative assessment is not a high-stake or standardized method of evaluating students’ knowledge. 
  2. It is not a replacement for other methods of classroom assessment like formative and summative assessment methods. 
  3. Alternative assessment does not measure the learner’s performance. 
  4. Results from alternative assessments are not presented as quantitative or numerical data. 

Now you know what should not be expected from alternative assessment, it’s time to get familiar with the characteristics of alternative assessment. 

  1. Alternative assessment is tailored to the specific needs and abilities of individual students. You should not think of it as a one-size-fits-all process. 
  2. It is an instructor-led assessment process. This means the teacher develops a unique method to measure the student’s ability. 
  3. Alternative assessment methods are flexible and continuously adaptable. 
  4. Alternative assessment or authentic assessment explores different learning styles and preferences in a bid to measure learners’ abilities. 
  5. Alternative assessment methods are seamlessly aligned with the learning goals and objectives of the course, class, or training. 

Examples of Alternative Assessment 

What methods of alternative assessment should you try out in class? There are a number of choices you can explore however, your final decision should be in line with the unique learning needs of every student and your teaching goals. Here, we will discuss a few examples of alternative assessments. 

  • Portfolio

You can ask students to build out a portfolio that demonstrates their knowledge of what has been taught in a class or training. A portfolio is a collection of the different tasks a student has executed in the course of the class or training.

If you're handling learners in beginner classes, you can ask them to create a paper portfolio using a notebook; for advanced learners, an online portfolio is the best bet. You can create a simple submission form on Formplus to collect links to your students' portfolios easily. 

  • Performance Test

Since alternative assessment is all about putting knowledge to work, design effective performance tests to help you rate a student's level of skill or knowledge. A performance test requires the learners to execute complex tasks while the instructor observes how they go about them.  

As an instructor, you should have well-defined scoring criteria to effectively measure each student's ability and arrive at a valid conclusion. Depending on the type of performance test you choose to adopt, you can create a quiz on Formplus for this purpose. 

  • Open Tests

An open test is a method of assessment that allows learners to refer to course materials as they take on tasks or write tests and examinations. The questions in an open test require the student to provide responses that show how well they understand the course. 

Instead of memorizing the content of the training guide or course materials, the student has to apply the knowledge in the material(s) to provide the best response to the stated questions. 

  • Crib Sheet

This is another form of open-book evaluation. Instead of bringing the entire course materials to a test or examination, the student selects important information from these materials to create some sort of abridged version called the crib sheet. 

While it's up to the student to decide what makes it into the crib sheet, you should provide some level of guidance as their instructor. You can subtly suggest the type of information that will be helpful during the assessment but you should not impose your ideas on the students; if you really want to know how much they know. 

  • Take-Home Assessment

Another way to assess your students' abilities is to give them take-home exercises. Take-home exercises typically check 2 boxes. Firstly, they require multiple references, and secondly, there isn't enough time for learners to do them in class. 

alternative-assessment-example

With take-home exercises, you really cannot tell if the student received some help from their guardian(s) but you can ask the students to work with materials that are strictly relevant to the course or training. You can create an online form on Formplus for this and send it to students via email invitations. 

  • Collaborative Testing

This happens when you put the students in groups and get them to work together on different tasks. Ideally, you should pair them or place the students in small groups of 3 or 4, to get the best results from this exercise. 

As the name suggests, collaborative testing empowers the students to brainstorm together, solve challenges, and execute ideas. At the end of each brainstorming session, you can ask your students to make individual submissions or submit collective responses as a group.  

  • Summaries

Instead of making students go through tests and assignments, you can ask them to summarise class readings, lectures, and discussions. A good summary tells you 1 thing—the student has an impressive understanding of key concepts and ideas from the classroom. 

Asides from helping you track a student’s knowledge in real-time, summary writing also does the magic for knowledge retention. Summary writing is a powerful way to improve learning and memory in the classroom. 

  • Reports

Reports work just like summaries; they require the student to show how well they understand key concepts from class discussions. However, reports take things a step further as the student needs to communicate his or her knowledge in a way that presents a clear picture to whoever reads the report; even if such a person wasn’t part of the class. 

  • Interviews

Pair students and ask them to perform interviews about different subject matters discussed in your class. For instance, if you had a class discussion on a historical event, one student can roleplay as a key event player while the other person becomes the interviewer; asking questions about that event. 

  • Concept Maps

A concept map is a visual representation of the relationship between ideas and concepts. To test your students’ level of understanding, ask them to build concept maps from scratch to show their knowledge or fill out existing concept maps. 

How to Use Formplus to Conduct Alternative Assessment 

You can use Formplus to create quizzes, polls, and surveys for alternative assessments. Here is how to create and administer a simple online form for alternative assessment with Formplus.

  • Log into your Formplus account and click on the “create new form” button on your dashboard. If you do not have a Formplus account, you can sign up for one here

  • In the form builder, drag and drop different fields from the form fields section into your form. The form fields section has more than 30 different fields that you can add to your form including text fields, rating fields, and image choice fields. 

  • Edit each field to include your questions and/or options. Here, you can make fields “read-only” or “required”.

  • Save all the changes you’ve made to your form by clicking on the save icon at the top-right corner of the form builder. This takes you to the builder’s customization section. 

  • Use the different form customization to change the look and feel of your form. Start by changing the form theme then go ahead to add your school’s logo and make any adjustments you want to the form font. 

  • Next, go to the form sharing section of the builder and choose the best option to share your form with your students. You can send out email invitations to them or simply copy and share the form link. 

Formplus has a variety of features that come together to make data collection seamless for you. Let's look at some of them. 

  • Mobile-Friendly Forms

Students can participate in alternative assessments right on their mobile phones, thanks to our mobile-responsive forms. Formplus forms can be viewed and filled out on any internet-enabled device easily—students do not need to pinch in or zoom out of their screens when filling your form. 

The form builder is also mobile-responsive and allows you to create surveys, polls, and quizzes from the comfort of your smartphone on-the-go. 

  • Multiple Form Fields

There are more than 30 form fields you can add to your online form to help you collect information in the right format from your students. If you want students to submit reports and summaries, you can add long text fields to your form. If you want to ask close-ended questions, you can use rating fields, radio options, or matrixes. 

  • Unlimited File Uploads and Storage

Formplus allows you to collect file uploads of any size and type through your form. This means students can submit PDF copies of concept maps and portfolios right in your alternative assessment form for evaluation and review. 

  • Drag-and-Drop Form Builder

Add different fields to your form using the drag-and-drop feature in the Formplus builder. It allows you to drag different foods from the builder’s form fields section and then drop them right in your form. The drag-and-drop feature works on all internet-enabled devices including your smartphone. 

  • Multiple Form Sharing Options

With Formplus, you have different ways to share your form including sending out email invitations or adding the form to your website. We also allow you to copy and share the form link with students or even share it to your social media pages via our direct sharing buttons. 

  • Form Customization

Formplus offers a range of form customization features that allow you to tweak and personalize your alternative assessment form so that it reflects your brand's image. You can make your form's outlook more professional by adding your preferred background image and your school logo to your form. 

Advantages of Alternative Assessment 

  1. It gives the student an opportunity to apply his or her knowledge to real-life situations and to solve practical problems. 
  2. Alternative assessment is an effective method of evaluating a student's problem-solving skills. 
  3. It is a cost-effective method of assessing a learner's knowledge within the training context. Sometimes, all you need is a Formplus online form to allow you to measure a student's proficiency level. 
  4. Alternative assessment methods are simple and straightforward. 
  5. It makes the teaching and learning processes more effective because teachers can identify and support students who need more guidance easily. 
  6. Alternative assessment encourages learners to step out of their comfort zones and think outside the box. Students learn to think, analyze, apply their knowledge to create solutions to different problems. 
  7. It is a fair and transparent process of determining student proficiency levels. 
  8. Alternative assessment is an effective method of building learners' logical reasoning and communication skills. 
  9. It eliminates the unreliable evaluation process that is typically associated with traditional methods of assessment like tests and examination. 

Disadvantages of Alternative Assessment 

  1. The results of alternative assessments can be largely affected by the teacher's bias or preferences. 
  2. It is a time-consuming assessment method because the teacher has to pay specific attention to every student in order to provide an almost-precise evaluation of the student's ability. 
  3. Alternative assessment methods can be difficult to develop and grade. 
  4. It is difficult to collate and interpret results from alternative assessments. This is because the results are mostly qualitative. 
  5. In situations where the teacher isn't familiar with alternative assessment, it becomes expensive for the school to train teachers on alternative assessment methods and set up test preparations. 

Conclusion

In this article, we have discussed different examples of alternative assessments plus how you can recreate them in your classroom during a course. Interestingly, some of these examples can boost parents' involvement in their wards' learning process. For instance, parents can help out with take-home assignments. 

Alternative assessment can be a type of formative assessment because it evaluates the learner's progress as the course goes underway. Formplus has multiple features and options that can help you to create and administer effective alternative assessment surveys for your course. 



  • Formplus Blog
  • on 10 min read

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