NDSU Distance & Continuing Education (DCE)

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Course Descriptions

Assessment and Grading for Student Achievement

EDUC 600

Educational experts Damian Cooper and Ken O'Connor present a lively and topical course on the necessity  of rethinking assessment practices  to help students learn and become more efficient. Participants  will analyze their current practice and begtn to implement improvements based on newly considered distinctions between assessments  FOR learning  as opposed to assessments OF teaming. Strategies included in the course include facilitating critical tasks for teachers, such as routinely sharing learning goals with students, providing  examples of excellence  (e.g., through rubrics). promoting collaborative work and selfa· nd peer-assessment, and providing  feedback that both informs students how to improve and allows them the time and space to do so. The course also examines the critical distinctions between formative assessment and summative grades and evaluates  whether grades promote learning  at ali, what functions grades can serve In a standards-based system and, most Importantly, when, what and how to grade students. Interviews with teachers and in­ classroom workshops illustrate  the key points throughout the course and provide examples in actual practice.


After completing this course, educators will know:

  • Formative assessment vs. summative assessment
  • What makes formative assessment facilitative of learning
  • What constitutes essential learning
  • Backward design
  • The zone of proximal development
  • What balanced assessment looks like
  • The relationship between instruction and assessment
  • The benefits of standards-based grading
  • The role of grades in learning
  • What makes grades quality

Student Learning Outcomes:

After completing this course, educators will apply the following skills:

  • Employ formative assessment to improve student learning
  • Use backward design principles to design effective instruction and assessment
  • Teach to students’ zones of proximal development
  • Provide effective feedback to students
  • Balance their assessment plans
  • Embrace standards-based grading over norm-referenced grading
  • Produce quality grades that are accurate, consistent, meaningful, and supportive of learning

Recommended Texts:

Cooper, D. (2010). Talk About Assessment: High School Strategies and Tools. Scarborough, ON: Nelson Education

Cooper, D. (2007). Talk About Assessment: Strategies and Tools to Improve Teaching and Learning. Scarborough, ON: Thomson Nelson

Available at http://www.nelsonschoolcentral.com/cgi-bin/lansaweb?webapp=WBOOKSITE+webrtn=booksite+F%28LW3ITEMCD%29=9780176289164