Alternative Assessments

Alternative or Authentic Assessments


Student’s Experience with Alternative Assessments

During my time at UTA, I’ve had the fortune to experience many different forms of teaching from various academic disciplines. While each discipline has their own teaching methodology, the ones where I remember the skills and concepts the most (even after a couple years) are the ones that utilized alternative assessments.

I found cramming for a 60-question exam was not helping me learn the course material as much as me trying to present my poster presentation in front of my peers. By being able to focus on the quality of the work I was putting into projects, essays, or presentations, I was learning how to apply the newly learned skills rather than trying to remember it for a timed exam.

Having alternative forms of assessments allow for the work library to expand for students. Rather than just having a GPA or a list of courses I’ve taken, having a portfolio with work helps to show what I can do rather than trying to advocate for my skills on a resume.



an alternative to standard tests and exams, provide a true evaluation of what the student has learned, going beyond acquired knowledge to focus on what the student has actually learned by looking at their application of this knowledge.

Traditional Assessment Vs Alternative Assessment


Approaches to Alternative Assessments

  1. Use multiple forms of assessment that align with learning goals in each unit
    a. Allows for a more comprehensive and accurate representation of a student’s learning
  2. Consider eliminating midterms and/or final exams
    a. Shorter, more frequent, and varied assessments are a better way for students to solidify concepts and skills
  3. Allow students to self-assess and engage in peer review and revision with possible
    a. Replicates the kind of work they will do in their careers
  4. Revise late work and “zero” policies
    a. Student will never be able to achieve a passing grade if they have a couple zeroes on their record; this allows for holding the students accountable for doing their work, even if it is late
  5. Allow students to do test corrections to show they understand their mistakes
    a. Lets students understand what they got wrong and can demonstrate that they know how to correct their errors
  6. Refrain from grading the first assignment(s) each semester
    a. Lowers stress and allows students to focus on the learning instead of just the grade
  7. Diversity teaching strategies to include rigorous project/problem-based learning as part of each unit
    a. Assignments can mimic the kind of learning and assessment that takes place outside the classroom


Types of Alternative Assignments

Letter/Letter to the editor

Requires research disciplinary knowledge, communication skills and creativity


Allows the student being concise and direct


Enhances professional verbal, visual, and written communication skills

Poster Presentation

Teaches professional skills for participation in academic conferences

Portfolio of Work

Demonstrates the evolution of their work over the course of the semester


Allows students to try out their ideas and set their own goals for learning before actually carrying out the projects

Policy Briefs, Reports

Allows students to develop professional skills and become familiar with the specific vocabulary and style of writing in their fields

Case students, Stimulations

Students must apply higher order thinking skills in order to evaluate and apply knowledge, and to analyze the problem


Advances the student knowledge and comprehension, improves skills in active listening, critical inquiry, professional communication, presentation, and group discussion


Allows for a real world application from what was taught in the classroom.


Advances the student critical thinking, being concise, and allows for personal experience of being interviewed

Performance tasks

Allows students to develop professional skills and become familiar with the specific vocabulary

Exhibitions and demonstrations

Teaches professional skills for participation in academic conferences/ relevant disciplines


Allows for self-reflection and a written record of the student’s academic progress

Teacher-created Tests

Allows for the material to be more familiar with what is taught inside the classroom


Provides the student with the exact specifications of what will be expected upon them

Self- and peer- evaluation

Allows for feedback and revision to be prioritized