Time spent carefully selecting the best assessment types to use in a course will ensure that student learning is measured effectively and can minimize unnecessary or misaligned assessment. Follow these steps to create learner-centered assessments.

An arrow in a target.Purpose

A person's head with gears.Learning Levels

A checklist that has been checked off.Assessment Types

A blue gear.Build

Step 1: Identify Purpose

If you're beginning with an existing assessment in mind:

  • What is the purpose of the existing assessment?
  • What does it currently assess?
  • Which course goals or student learning objectives does the assessment align with?

If you're starting from scratch:

  • Think about what you want to accomplish.
  • Are you creating an assessment that will be diagnostic, formative, or summative [1] in nature?
  • What should this assessment measure?
  • Which course goals or student learning objectives should the assessment align with?

Once you've identified the purpose of the assessment you want to build or modify, move on to Step 2. Keep in mind that you may need to revisit and adjust the purpose slightly as your assessment begins to take shape. It's important to maintain alignment.

Step 2: Identify Learning Levels

Now that you've reflected on the purpose of your assessment, take a moment to think about the learning levels the assessment will measure. What are you expecting students to demonstrate through this assessment?

Bloom's Taxonomy Graphic See link to full description below

Bloom's Taxonomy Graphic Description

Are you assessing lower, medium or higher order skills?

  • Lower order: Students are being asked to recall specific facts or grasp the meaning of materials.
  • Medium order: Students are being asked to use information in a new situation or identify schemas or relationships
  • Higher order: Students are asked to use information to make judgments or to create or develop something new
  • A combination: You may want to use multiple assessment types spread over multiple days/weeks.

Learn more about learning levels on the Bloom’s Taxonomy page.

Once you've identified these learning level(s), you can start to think about how to package these into one or more assessments that will work for you and your students. Step 3 will present a variety of assessments that may work in lieu of traditional exams and can be administered online or face-to-face.

Step 3: Select Assessments

The table below provides some examples of assessment types that typically fall within the learning levels shown. Notice that some assessments fall under multiple learning levels because they can be adapted to fit each.

Designing from scratch

If you are designing assessments from scratch, explore the QuickStart guides below based on the learning levels and purpose you determined in steps 1 and 2. Once you've found a combination you'd like to implement, move on to Step 4.

Adapting existing assessments

If you plan to adjust existing assessments, the QuickStart guides may serve as inspiration, but Modifying Assessment Strategy for Online Teaching may also be a valuable resource! This page contains tips for adjusting existing quizzes and exams to be effective in an online environment, includes information about using authentic assessment, and provides tips for manageability.

Assessment Quick Start Guides

Each of the short guides below will provide a definition and ideas for including different types of assessments in a course. In each case, there is a section for courses with large enrollment (over 100 students) as well as an example from a UF instructor who has used this type of assessment in a course.

Employing a combination of assessment types throughout the semester can keep students engaged and provide them with feedback for improvement. Varied assessments also make it possible to spread grading load throughout the semester to avoid crunch times (for example, after an exam).

Lower order (Remember / Understand)

Students are being asked to recall specific facts or grasp the meaning of materials.


Medium order (Apply / Analyze)

Students are being asked to use information in a new situation or identify schemas or relationships


Higher order (Evaluate / Create)

Students are asked to use information to make judgments or to create or develop something new




  • Peer Review [F, C]
  • Case Studies [C]
  • Writing test questions [C]
  • Performance[S, X]
  • Discussion [C]
  • Capstone project [S, X]
  • Problem-based learning [C]
  • ePortfolios [S]
  • Quiz/Exam with written questions [F, S]


[D] Often used as a diagnostic assessment to assess prior knowledge

[F] Often used to provide formative feedback

[S] Often used to provide summative feedback

[C] Works well as a collaborative activity

[X] May allow students to choose the format for their submission (video, written, presentation, drawing, etc.)

Step 4: Build Assessments
  1. Consider whether the assessment consists of stages. For example, for an essay, students may submit a proposal, followed by a first draft, a peer review, and then a final submission. In educational lingo this is called scaffolding. If your assessment would benefit from scaffolding, you may want to build separate assignments for each stage of the assessment.
  2. Next, look at your semester schedule and decide where you want each assessment to land. Be sure to take grading time into account at this stage to be sure you can provide students with feedback in a timely fashion. (link to timing help page)
  3. Write clear, transparent instructions that make the purpose, task, and evaluation criteria transparent to students [2].
  4. If you’d like to speak to an instructional designer about developing the assessment, selecting tools, and building it in Canvas, fill out a request for assistance.
  5. Contact eLearning Support for Canvas assistance. Something not working? Not sure how to use a tool? Contact eLearning Support at learning-support@ufl.edu or 392-4357, option 3.

Before you use the new assessment, review its stated purpose and learning levels one last time to ensure that everything aligns well.

After you run a new assessment, reflect on how it worked, how the grading load felt, how your students responded, and make notes of how to adjust for next time.

References and Additional Resources