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The Assessment Triangle

Assessment is the process of reasoning from evidence. To design assessments of student learning that will provide useful evidence requires that we coordinate and align three key components: cognition, which refers to a model of the thinking and learning of students within the subject domain, observations, the tasks or activities that students engage in that provide evidence of learning, and interpretations, the process or methods for making sense of the evidence. The Assessment Triangle: cognition, observations, interpretations
Assessments are effective and useful only to the degree that these three components are in synchrony. If we design tasks without clearly thinking about if and how those tasks will require students to demonstrate the targeted knowledge and skills, we may end up with data that doesn’t address our goals. Alternatively, if we design tasks without thinking about how we will analyze the performance, we may end up with data that don’t allow us to detect students’ strengths or weaknesses.

National Research Council (2001). Knowing what students know: The science and design of educational assessment. National Academy Press: Washington DC.

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