Aligning Assessments with Learning Objectives

When you are creating a course, strive to design with the end in mind. After you have established a set of measurable learning objectives for your course, work to develop assessments that are aligned with your stated learning objectives. Think of the learning objectives as a set of skills, knowledge, or abilities that your students will be able to demonstrate a mastery of at the end of the course. Then consider the assessments as a way for the student to prove they are capable of that mastery.

Let’s consider the following learning objective: Describe the seven steps of the research process when writing a paper. First, consider the action verb. The verb “describe” falls within the knowledge and comprehension levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Therefore, your learning assessment should have the student demonstrate that he can describe the seven steps of the research process when writing a paper. The following assessment examples might be considered for this objective:

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Complete a quiz consisting of multiple choice questions, where the student chooses the correct steps.
Create a poster highlighting the steps.
Ask the students to recite the steps.

Note that asking the students to write a paper using the seven steps of the research process is not appropriate because this asks the student to perform at a higher level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Doing so would not be in alignment with the stated learning objective.

What if the objective was rewritten? For example, Use the seven steps of the research process when writing a paper. This new objective is using an action verb that falls in the application level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, and the student is expected to use the research process to write a paper. The grading would also primarily focus on how the student used the process.

If your student had never been exposed to the process before, it would be appropriate to have a low-stakes quiz to assess the students’ knowledge of the research process prior to writing the paper.

For a course to meet the Quality Matters standards, it must have assessments that are in alignment with the stated learning objectives. Remember, when creating assessments, look at the action verb being used for your learning objective and the level of learning to apply.


  1. Sylvain says

    A different kind of challenge I have with a class of 100 students is their diversity of knowledge and mastering of basic tools. It is a 300 level course in economics which uses basics in microeconomics. Too many students are not familiar with first degree equations and graphs, or with areas calculations, etc. At the knowledge level, half of the class gets bored and demotivated. At the application level, some still fail… I have to accept a proportion of “failing: students – the ones who will learn by heart just to get a good enough grade when possible.

  2. Irma Sandercock says

    I just discovered a very cool tutorial that provides you with an interactive view of
    the Bloom’s Wheel revised for the 21st century. Check it out!

    Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy Wheel and the Knowledge Dimension.

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