Designing Performance-based Assessment Tasks

How do I design performance-based assessment tasks?

Well-designed performance tasks are based on needs as determined by your course objectives and available resources; authentic to both real-world activities and your students’ life experiences; contextualized by providing a thorough description of the background so students can imagine themselves in the situation; appropriate for students’ proficiency levels; and include clear standards, or criteria of a successful performance that students can understand.

Knowing these features, you can develop a performance task using the following steps:

  1. Choose one performance objective or learning outcome and brainstorm ways you can assess student progress on or mastery of that objective. Note the proficiency level and communicative mode for the chosen objective.
  2. Write what students will do to complete the task, what successful completion of the task looks like, and how students will demonstrate their performance of the objective being assessed.
  3. Write what instructions, background context information, and materials students will receive to support their completion of the task. Consider your practical needs in terms of where and how the task will be administered, for example, in small groups, pairs, or individually.
  4. Brainstorm how you will evaluate student performances using a checklist or rubric, and whether that is an existing tool, one that can be adapted, or needs to be created.
  5. Write how you will share feedback with students and other stakeholders. Consider what you will do with the information gathered from this task, including how results will inform future instruction in your classroom or program.
  6. Finally, consider if there is a way you want to provide student choice during the task.