Designing Performance Assessment Tasks

In this article, Phillip Cohen argues that “creating effective assessment tasks requires thinking through curriculum content to establish learning outcomes, then designing performance activities that will allow students to demonstrate their achievement of those outcomes, and specifying criteria by which they will be evaluated.” After a short introduction illustrating the benefits and basic methods behind performance assessment, he covers how to develop good criteria for assessment, effective performance assessment tasks, and the benefits of performance assessment for teachers.

Content Comments 

Written in 1995, this article provides a reasonable overview of the performance assessment design process. Examples from teachers and well-known researchers are provided, nearly all of whom are still working in the field today. The article could be improved with stronger visual design and examples of performance assessment tasks, but for those looking into performance assessment today, this article should be helpful. Nearly all of the key design principles set forth in this article are still applicable to the design of complex assessment tasks today, including carefully defined performance and scoring criteria, differentiation between formative and summative purposes, meaningful content, and application of skills and prior knowledge required in the assessment task.