Unit 5 Learner Assessments

Overview | Objectives | Resources | Events


Criterion-referenced tests (CRT) are designed to measure student achievement of an explicit set of learning objectives. Conventional CRTs include multiple choice, true-false, fill-in-the-blank, matching and short answer items. Such tests have become pervasive because they could be mass produced, administered and scored with relative objectivity. However, over the past decade, there has been a movement towards the increased use of performance assessments.

Performance assessments represent a particular type of CRT. Like conventional CRTs, they measure the achievement of an explicit set of objectives or criteria. However, performance assessments differ from traditional paper and pencil exams in two key respects. First, unlike traditional measures that tend to evaluate students’ possession of knowledge, performance assessments judge students’ ability to apply knowledge. Second, rather than being used to sort students, performance assessments are designed as an integral part of learning. Such assessments tell students and their instructors how well they are developing their skills and knowledge and what they need to do to develop them further. Thus, performance assessments serve as a diagnostic tool that provides students with profiles of their emerging abilities to help them become increasingly independent learners.

This unit reviews key concepts related to conventional and performance CRTs described by Dick, Carey and Carey (2022). It also details the development of assessment rubrics that is not addressed by the course textbook and elaborates on methods to ensure alignment between objectives and assessments.

To complete this unit, you are to generate an Assessment Alignment Table and create related assessment instrument(s) for your instructional unit. Unit 6 should take you and your design and development team members approximately 5-10 hours to complete.

Please note: In “real-life” design initiatives, the production of actual assessment instruments may occur during the development phase of the systematic process. However, they are included here to focus your efforts on assessment concepts and because issues related to identifying appropriate items and formatting assessment instruments are covered in the same chapter of the course textbook. Also Note: Performance assessment techniques are not advocated as more appropriate than conventional, criterion-referenced tests. It is offered as an alternative for assessing student learning and performance. To complete this unit, you may choose to develop a conventional criterion-referenced test, a performance checklist or a portfolio assessment rubric.



Terminal Objective
Given a variety of instructional objectives, determine appropriate learner
assessment method(s) and develop assessment instruments that are congruent with specified learning objectives, learner characteristics and learning context.

Enabling Objectives

  • Identify the purpose of criterion-referenced tests;
  • Distinguish criterion-referenced vs. norm-referenced tests;
  • Recognize how entry behavior tests, pretests, practice tests and post tests are used by educators and instructional designers.
  • Compare and contrast conventional criterion referenced testing methods with the use performance/product checklists and portfolio assessment rubrics;
  • Name and discuss four criteria for developing criterion-referenced tests and identify key considerations within each category;
  • Prepare an Assessment Alignment Table to ensure alignment between objectives and assessments.


Required Resources

  • List of performance objectives for your instructional unit; and
  • A copy of your learner and context analyses.


Recommended Instructional Events

  1. Review Dick, Carey & Carey (2022) Chapter 7 – Developing Assessment Instruments.
  2. Complete the practice items provided at the end of Chapter 7 using feedback in textbook to check your own work.
  3. Scan Assignment 2, focusing your attention on the Learner Assessment Alignment Table.
  4. Read supplemental materials for Unit 5.0 – Learner Assessment Supplement.
  5. Watch the overview of aligning learner assessment (.mp4, 3 min 14 sec); then watch demonstrations on how to fill-in each column of your learner assessment alignment table by accessing the links in Table 5.1 (below).

    Table 5.1. Demonstrations of aligning learner assessment and objectives

    Skill Objective Classification Method Criteria

    Click on an active link to watch the video

  6. Complete optional Quiz 5.0 to self-assess and monitor your own acquisition of key concepts.
  7. Review description and requirements for Assignment 2: Draft your own individual Learner Assessment Alignment Table.
  8. Discuss individual drafts with your teammates. Either select or generate one that represents your team’s best efforts for Assignment 2 (Instructional Treatment Plan).
  9. Respond to any posted questions and post any additional questions or comments you may have about the information covered in this unit in the proper location on the course bulletin board system.


Last Updated 08/19/23


Instructional System Design Copyright © by Atsusi Hirumi. All Rights Reserved.

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