Tools to measure acquisition of learned content

      Direct Measures

It is always imperative for the instructors in institutions of higher learning to have a wide range of tools that can measure the extent to which each student has acquired the content learned and how much they can apply it to solve problems. As such, performance assessment refers to the process in which the instructors use the products or the activities of the students in their effort to measure the extent to which the students have developed as well as evaluating the skills and knowledge gained(Caffarell&Daffron, 2013 p 95). As such, using performance assessment, the evaluator presents an assessment that requires the students to present their own responses without having to choose the responses from an already provided list. Essentially, in performance assessment, the grading is made by the faculty or any other specialized and qualified observer and it is usually accompanied by the feedback from the evaluator(Caffarell&Daffron, 2013 p 95).

Performance tests

As opposed to objective tests, performance assessments provide a useful platform in which the faculty can provide feedback to each individual student regarding the outcome(Caffarell&Daffron, 2013 p 96). In essence, since the performance assessment allows the students to present their thoughts and understanding of a concept and offer examples as well as a practical analysis of a concept, the faculty can gauge their level of comprehension and analysis. As such, it is possible to give feedback stating if there is any information left out in the student’s analysis or encouraging the student to revise the content taught. Therefore, this is a crucial part of improving students’ outcomes(Caffarell&Daffron, 2013 p 98). Similarly, it is relatively easier for the faculty to use performance assessments to evaluate the learning outcomes of the students. Primarily, the faculty has the obligation of presenting an authentic assessment that meets all the standards. Therefore, in this regard, presenting an assessment that reflects the learning from the discipline in which the students are engaged indirectly helps in assessing the manner in which the students can demonstrate the intended learning outcome of a course. As opposed to objective assessments, in performance assessment, the faculty or the examining body can come up with a reaction, response and conclusion regarding the general performance by students as well as propose the necessary measures of improving the students’ outcomes(Caffarell&Daffron, 2013 p 98).

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Performance assessment

Further, performance assessment allows the faculty to evaluate the skill level attained by the student as well as tailor the evaluation to test the key cognitive levels of the students to test their outcomes. Essentially, it has been proved difficult for objective tests to evaluate several cognitive levels of the students apart from their memory(Caffarell&Daffron, 2013 p 112). In contrast, it is possible for the faculty to have parameters that can measure the outcomes of the students through several cognitive avenues. For example, art students can be evaluated on imagination and creativity using a performance assessment. Similarly, the social domain can be evaluated using group assessments as well as oral presentations.

In the recent past, institutions of higher learning have adopted the use of e-portfolios. As such, it is important to analyze critically the fundamental advantages and disadvantages of these e-portfolios for outcome assessment among the students. One of the advantages is that e-portfolios enhance the students’ competencies as well as both personal and academic competencies through the process of maintaining an array of artifacts of their projects(Miller & Morgaine, 2009). Since the e-portfolio allows the students to have an archive of their holistic progress academically, it becomes easier for the learners to keep a record of their progress and keep on focusing on the required objectives. Another advantage is that it helps in connecting the students’ outcomes across courses and disciplines(Miller & Morgaine, 2009). Since e-portfolios are not tailored towards a specific course, it is possible for the students to resonate their objectives, feedback, and artifacts across the entire discipline. As such, the outcome assessment is holistic rather than dimensional. On the other hand, one of the disadvantages of e-portfolio in outcome assessment is that the artifacts used in the e-portfolios may cause a skeptical and ambiguous in determining the appropriate learning outcomes(Kampschuur& Chatterton, 2007). Additionally, since it is a digital platform, it may cause a probable challenge of authenticity through plagiarism(Kampschuur& Chatterton, 2007). Sometimes it may be difficult to prove the originality of the artifacts used in the e-portfolios to assess students’ outcome.


Caffarella, R. S., &Daffron, S. R. (2013). Planning programs for adult learners: A practical guide (3rd Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass/Wiley.

Kampschuur, M., & Chatterton, P. (2007). Assessment and Electronic Portfolios. Retrieved from

Miller, R., & Morgaine, W. (2009). The Benefits of E-portfolios for Students and Faculty in Their Own Words. Retrieved from

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