Examples of alternative assessments

Below we list a couple of examples of alternative assessments. We’ve also added links to examples, videos and articles to broaden your perspective and become more familiar with alternative assessment types and styles.

Once you have completed this session please complete the task below to let us know what you think of alternative assessments and which method you are most comfortable with.

Alternative Assessment Methods


In order to create a portfolio assignment for the students, it is necessary to establish a series of questions which have to be addressed in designing the portfolio assignment. (Source: Basto, 2014)


  • Purpose – What is the purpose of the portfolio?

  • Audience – In what audiences will the portfolio be created?

  • Content – What samples of student work will be included?

  • Process – What processes (e.g., selection of work to be included, reflection on work, conferencing) will be engaged during the development of the portfolio?

  • Management – How will time and materials be managed in the development of the portfolio?

  • Communication – How and when will the portfolio be shared with pertinent audiences?

  • Evaluation – If the portfolio is to be used for evaluation, when and how should it be evaluated?

Reflective journals

(Source: Mishra and Panda, 2007)

  • Reflection is important for learning;

  • Two types: Reflection-on-action and Reflection-in-action;

  • Reflection is a systematic meaning making process that requires attitude to value the personal and intellectual growth of oneself and others;

  • It is not just writing a diary;

  • Use action verbs in the level beyond “Remember” in the revised Blooms Taxonomy;

  • Cover a critical reflection approach by using questions such as what, how and why;

  • Provide opportunity to contextualise, theorise, personalise, and generalise

Peer Assessment

(Source: Mishra, 2004)

  • Developing learners’ skills of assessment;

  • Deepening their understanding of the process of assessment;

  • Strengthening their understanding of the topic and methods;

  • Developing their skills of group task management, and power of articulation to provide feedback;

  • Facilitating self-assessment and reflective thinking.

Self Assessment

(Source: Mishra, 2004)

  • Promotes self-monitoring of progress by learners;

  • Develops independent and self-directed learning;

  • Important to apply for recognition of prior learning;

  • Promotes self knowledge and understanding;

  • Research shows that high achievers tend to underestimate and low achievers tend to overestimate ;

  • Tutor feedback is important;

  • Assessment criteria for self-assessment (What I have been doing? How have I been doing? What do I think of what I have been doing?)


A rubric is a scoring guide that assists in evaluating a student’s performance based on a range of criteria rather than a single score. You can use it to evaluate the depth, breadth, creativity and conceptual framework of an essay, presentation, skit, poster, project, lab report, portfolio, etc. A rubric may be applied to numerous tasks in the classroom. Rubrics consist of specific pre defined
performance criteria that are:

  • Summative in providing information about a student’s knowledge;

  • Formative in providing information about a student’s strengths and weaknesses;

  • Evaluative in providing ways to create instruction that better fits each student’s needs;

  • Educative in providing students with an understanding of how they learn science.

Effective alternative assessment relies on observations that are recorded using checklists and rubrics.

Below we discuss are four types of rubrics that can be cited in association with alternative assessment.

Holistic rubric

A holistic rubric is also known as a single criteria rubric (one-dimensional), used to assess participants’ overall achievement on an activity or item based on predefined achievement levels. Performance descriptions are written in paragraphs and usually in full sentences.

Example of holistic rubric

Analytical rubric

An analytical rubric is two-dimensional, with levels of achievement as columns and assessment criteria as rows. It allows you to assess participants’ achievements based on multiple criteria using a single rubric. You can assign different weights (value) to different criteria and include an overall achievement by totalling the criteria written in a table form.

Example of analytical rubric

Primary trait rubric

In primary trait scoring, the instructor predetermines the main criterion, or primary trait, for successful performance of a task. This approach thus involves narrowing the criteria for judging performance to one main dimension.

Example of holistic rubric click here.

Multi-trait rubric

The multi-trait approach is similar to the primary trait approach, but allows for rating performance on three or four dimensions, rather than just one. Multi-trait rubrics resemble analytic rubrics in that several aspects are scored individually. However, where an analytic scale includes traditional dimensions such as content, organisation and grammar, a multi-trait rubric involves dimensions that are more closely aligned with features of the task.

For example, on an information-gap speaking task where students are asked to describe a picture in enough detail for a listener to choose it from a set of similar pictures, a multi-trait rubric would include dimensions such as quality of description, fluency, and language control, click here for an example.

You can use online tools such as Rubistar to develop your own rubric.

Comment and discuss on the forum how the following technology supported approaches can be used to enhance assessment of ESD.

  • Online discussions/blogs
  • Blended learning assessments;
  • Online project based learning;
  • e-portfolio;
  • Question Mark Perception;
  • podcast; and
  • online/typed exams.

What would make these more appropriate for transformative learning and ESD practice?