Creating and Using Written Response Assessment

Who among us has not experienced the fear and confusion that results from being asked to respond to an essay prompt that was so open-ended that you could have written a book? Or as a teacher, how often have you fallen into the trap of creating short-answer items that only focus on lower-order recall of trivial facts? This happens because few of us have had the opportunity to learn the fundamentals about the design and use of strong written response items.

I think this situation is a curious one. After all, the use of short and extended response items to evaluate student learning is a valued tool in our profession. At a time when educators are being asked to evaluate higher-order learning, the use of written response assessment has become even more predominant. States incorporate written response into their high stakes tests. Teachers often use written assessment to help guide and evaluate student learning. But without strong assessment design, do you really have accurate measures by which to make sound judgments?

Clearly, the design and use of written assessment is vital, so it is extremely important to learn how to do it well. The recently released Creating and Using Written Response Assessment Module can help. This module is part of the Designing Sound Assessment (DSA) series and provides educators with a practical how-to process for designing and using written response assessment.

In my experience, professional learning about assessment accuracy and use has been too thin and a mile wide. I might have learned some obvious dos and dont’s and received some scoring tips along the way. I have been asked to detect a faulty prompt or stimulus, but have rarely had the opportunity to practice and therefore improve. And as a result it became easy to rely on items found online without knowing how to critique them for quality.

Like other modules in the DSA series, the Creating and Using Written Response Assessment Module will enable educators to create and effectively use this method of assessment, not just for the purpose of gathering evidence of student learning, but as an instructional tool for fostering student engagement in their own learning. The module provides multiple standards-referenced examples and interactive opportunities to self-assess and reflect with the following learning targets in place to guide the user:

Although designing and refining high quality assessments takes time, the payoffs are big. Below are some of the very important uses of sound written response assessment, which you will learn more about in the module.

The Designing Sound Assessment module series is available to all Ohio educators for free. Enroll here