Step 2 Choose and Design Assessments Worksheets

Once you have reviewed you course goals and learning objectives and aligned your assessments to those objectives, you can begin to design the assessments themselves, usually some combination of exams, projects, papers, labs, quizzes, homework, etc. Before jumping in, take a moment to respond to the questions on the first page of the worksheets above to think through what content and skills student will need to demonstrate at the different stages of your course.

Choose the Types of Assessments

At a basic level, we can classify assessments as formative or summative, low-stakes or high-stakes:

  • Formative assessments check students' learning progress. Formative assessments are often low-stakes practice activities such as homework problems, short quizzes, paper or project drafts, and brief "knowledge" checks using classroom assessment techniques (CATs). The CATs link takes you to a page that provides information about when and how to use these techniques such as think-pair-share, one-minute papers, and the muddiest point - that you can use to spot check students' learning before, during, or at the end of a class meeting.
  • Summative assessments evaluate students' learning for mastery of concepts or skills. Summative assessments are typically high-stakes such as exams, design projects, research term papers, etc. 

Lower-stakes assessments serve as scaffolding to support student learning as they work on the skills needed to succeed in the major summative assessments, and they will give you an opportunity to see where students are at in their learning process and provide them a feedback to help them along the way.

This video (originally recorded for the Georgia Tech Hybrid and Remote Teaching Academy) describes the differences between summative (major assessment) and formative (low-stakes assessment) and provides some examples of each (download transcript here).


On the Step 2 Worksheet, you will find a table that you can now use to scaffold a unit of assessment by considering a course learning objective and determining what combination of low-stakes formative assessments will help students succeed on the high-stakes summative assessments with a completed example for reference.

Design a Major Assessment Using the TiLT Framework

The Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TiLT) framework is an equitable approach to developing major assignments. Many students, including first generation college students and students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, are disadvantaged if they do not know how to navigate the often unwritten and unspoken rules of college success. The TiLT framework is designed to make what is often hidden or unexpressed explicit, so that all students have the opportunity for success.

For more background about TiLT, watch these short videos by Mary-Ann Winkelmess, founder and Principle Investigator of TiLT Higher Ed, that outline the fundamentals of TiLT:

The Unwritten Rules of College Success 

Transparency Framework 1) Purpose

Transparency Framework 2) Task (25 second video)

Transparency Framework 3) Criteria (24 second video)

See this video for a summary of a study that investigated the impact of using the TiLT framework on underserved student academic performance. (7 minutes, 43 seconds).

Pages 5 and 6 of the Step 2 Worksheets provides an example of a TiLTed assignment sheet and a template to create your own assignment sheet. Examples of assessments using the TiLT Framework (examples show what the assignment looked like before and after applying the TiLT framework):

More examples and information about TiLT is available on the TiLT HigherEd website.

What differences (if any) do you notice about assignments written using the TiLT framework vs. those you’ve written/seen before? What advantages do you see in this framework? What concerns do you have about using the TiLT framework for constructing your own assignments?

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