CSCC Digital Education & Instructional Services

Alternative Assessment

Alternative Assessment


  • The essence of alternative assessment is that students are given the opportunity to do one or more of the following:
    • Demonstrate their ability
    • Perform a meaningful task
    • Receive feedback in terms of relevant and defensible criteria
  • In short, the purpose for using alternative assessments is to assess students’ proficiency in performing complex tasks that are directly associated with learning outcomes.
  • An Annotated Bibliography
    • This document provides an overview of existing research regarding alternative assessments, with an emphasis on how they might be implemented in real-world situations. Given the volume of literature on the topic, this is a working document, to be expanded as the literature is explored.
  • Alternative Assessment Design Process


  • Provides a means to assess valued skills
  • Promotes critical thinking
  • Provides for demonstration of applied knowledge
  • Promotes the student learning at a deeper level
  • Is an example of active learning and when done in groups is active and collaborative learning.
  • Research shows that students are highly engaged.
  • Typically students satisfaction when they engage with alternative assignment.


  • Time and effort on the part of the instructor and students
  • Grading may be viewed as more subjective
  • Student knowledge of technology

Alternative Assessments Suggestions

One of the most challenging aspects of teaching in the remote and online environment is the assessment of student learning. Faculty seeking ways to assess what students have learned and to reduce incidents of academic dishonesty may consider implementing alternative assessments. Alternative assessments promote an authentic assessment of student learning.

Alternative assessments are used to determine what students can and cannot do, in contrast to what they do or do not know. They encourage students to learn to apply knowledge rather than memorize material.

Examples of Alternative Assessments

Type of Alternative Assessment Suggestions
Open-ended questions Move away from traditional true/false, multiple choice, matching question types. Use short answer or essay questions that require a student to provide an answer that demonstrates critical thinking and original thought.
Written compositions Consider using TurnItIn to identify plagiarism and assess authentic student work. Click here for help with TurnItIn.
Oral presentations Students can give presentations using Bb Collaborate or WebEx from remote locations. Click here for help with Collaborate.
Projects There are endless possibilities of projects that students can complete to demonstrate critical thinking, skills, and understanding of course concepts (e.g. plan an event, create and conduct a survey, develop a business plan, interview a professional in their field of study, conduct a quality improvement project, and many more).
Experiments Utilize virtual laboratory experiences and demonstrations. Link to collection of virtual science laboratory resources
E-portfolios Students can collect artifacts (samples of work) and create a website or electronic notebook to demonstrate their accomplishments. Reflection is often included in the portfolio to allow the student to make connections between coursework and experiences. (Examples of software students may use to create e-portfolios – Google Sites and OneNote)
Infographics Students can create an infographic that examines a course concept. (Example of software to create infographic –
Videos Students can create a video explaining a concept, demonstrating a skill, reflecting on content, etc. Students may use their phone, computer, or other device. All students now have access to Kaltura Capture, which is used to upload videos and may also be used to create videos. Click here for help with getting started with Kaltura.
Pecha Kucha PowerPoint presentation This style of presentation uses 20 slides, for 20 seconds each, for a 400 second PowerPoint presentation on any concept.
Original songs and short films For the more creatively inclined students and subjects, students may create a short (5 minute) film. Students may write and perform a song that demonstrates a course concept or theory.
Peer Review This activity is where students “grade” students. The peer reviewer must document what a classmate demonstrated or said to support the evaluation of a skill performed or an assignment completed. The instructor can assess the peer reviewer’s knowledge of the concept by the peer reviewer’s evaluation of a classmate’s performance. The instructor may provide a rubric to peer reviewers that includes the expectations of meaningful feedback.


Using grading rubrics can substantially facilitate the grading of an alternative assignment. Rubrics allows you to

  • Keep consistent grading
  • Give students detailed guidelines for how they will be assessed

Information Related to Using Rubics with Blackboard