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Office of Academic Assessment

Information on equity-minded assessment of student learning at Emerson, including resources, programming, and reports.

Authentic, equity-minded assessment

Throughout this page, you will see references to both authentic or alternative assessment and equity-minded assessment. 

What is an alternative assessment?

For some disciplines, the research essay or multiple choice exam is the assessment "standard." While this isn't the case in many creative fields, we still have some traditional, summative assessment practices we gravitate towards. Alternative assessments within your field move away from traditional, summative assessment of student learning at the end of a course, and seek to "motivate students in their approach to learning, helping them develop thinking and problem-solving skills, and allowing them to assess their own understanding of the course content" (Mazur, 2015). 

"Alternative forms of assessment can allow you to see what students can and cannot do, versus what they do and do not know."

What is equity-minded assessment?

According to the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, "For assessment to improve student learning and authentically document what students know and can do for today’s diverse students, an equitable and culturally responsive approach to assessment is needed."

NILOA outlines six principles of equity-minded assessment:

  1. Check biases and ask reflective questions throughout the assessment process to address assumptions and positions of privilege.
  2. Use multiple sources of evidence appropriate for the students being assessed and assessment effort.
  3. Include student perspectives and take action based on perspectives.
  4. Increase transparency in assessment results and actions taken.
  5. Ensure collected data can be meaningfully disaggregated and interrogated.
  6. Make evidence-based changes that address issues of equity that are context-specific.

Why practice equity-minded assessment?

Research shows that traditional modes of teaching and assessing learning can deepen educational inequalities. By contrast, practicing equity-minded assessment encourages us to watch for those inequalities and respond, to ensure that all students in our classes and programs have equal opportunities to succeed in their learning.

Equity-Minded Assessment Research