The best type of assessment

As a department we were continually looking to improve assessment. Some assessment types benefited class analysis more than it did the student, such as the spreadsheets. Some benefited the students learning more than the class overviews such as the blog. What I found worked best was a combination of spreadsheet for my own personal class analysis and a blog for the students to showcase their work, receive feedback and make continual improvements. In other words the blog became the equivalent of a workbook or learning diary. Blogging superseded alternatives because it allowed for iterative progression and was intuitive for students to use.

I have labelled each method of assessment A-L. Please share your methods in the comments section.


a) Google for class assessment (example):
Google sheets

Pros: Great for KS4, one link required to access current grades. Link stays the same for the whole year
Cons: Not so good for ks3. Annotated work worked better


b) Google spreadsheet used as department assessment sheet.
Google sheets

Similar to the above except sheets are classes. Every time the sheet is updated HOD can see how the classes are performing. Every member of staff updates the same spreadsheet.

Pros: Great for ks4, one link required to access current grades. Link stays the same
Cons: Not so good for KS3 where they responded better to annotations


c) Video or podcast: Used an app such as coaches eye (IOS and Android). Used podcasting ( and video ( recorders online
media based

Pros: Students engaged with it. Great for SEN students
Cons: Time consuming, students watched it once and remembered one comment from many. Effective with some but not effective with many


d) Moodle
media based

Pros: Everything under one area: work and feedback
Cons: Too complicated an interface. Annotating work and re-uploading was time consuming. Too easy to make mistakes, but no way of undoing to previous version easily. Plus many more minor user interface issues to do with reporting. Overall not impressive when compared to Google classroom


e) Google Classroom
media based

Pros: Easier than Moodle for students to share work. Setting up assignments and marking work is more intuitive. Pretty much Moodle but better
Cons: Not good at showing iterations of work. Peer assessment possible. Moderation lacking more controls

f) Various types of online student blog. There are lots out there including our system.
Based on WordPress, but with loads more moderation controls. Allowing you to keep the students safe and stop silly comments. Make posts hidden or make them public for the world to see.

media based
Pros: Safe & easy to moderate. Iteration of work is easy to see. Peer assessment is easily moderated. You can make blog posts and comments private, so that only the student author sees their work and feedback (more appropriate for KS4 coursework). Suitable for KS1 up to KS5
Cons: No top level reporting for grading, although a spreadsheet is quite easy to add this type of leveling and reporting to. Blogs are best for comment based assessment, which has shown to be better for the student anyway. Grades will have to be entered in a spreadsheet if you want to see an overview of classes progress over time (as levels).


g) Paper version annotated work
media based

Pros: Visual. Good for iterative outlook of work.
Cons: Soon out of date. Too messy, paperwork soon builds up, becomes more of a paper trail compared to the blogging timeline view of developing work.


h) Scanning paper based (g) annotated work using where students can comment. The link was emailed to students.
media based

Pros: Better moderation tools than Google Drive. Students writing so called “humorous” comments is not an issue. Students cannot lose it like paper. Preview is better than alternatives such as Dropbox. Best used with KS4 for coursework feedback.
Cons: Soon becomes redundant and students cannot remember what they have and have not changed since you last graded their work, so half the recommended changes are not done for many students.

h.1) Sending link (method “h”) to student via email each time I updated the marking. Slightly different from method “h”. I was sending students a link to a seperate copy of the document. The reason for this was that SMT wanted to see the progress being made by the students, therefore various copies of the marked work were required.
media based

Pros: Students liked the process of finding mail in their inbox. Unopened mail indicated an update, so I didn’t need to keep telling students “look in your inbox”. After a while students just went to their email accounts automatically each lesson to check.
Cons: After frequent marking of various content, students started to get confused by the inbox. KS4 would ask “is this the most updated feedback?”. The fact that there were lots of units marked at various times, with various copies of the same work became too much of inbox management issue.

When I was asked for example marking by SMT, it became a process of paper sifting and going through registers to find out why I hadn’t marked that particular student’s work (Normally due to attendance issue). This was a more lengthily process than you would think as we had a really fragmented registration system. We hadn’t updated to SIMS yet.

I needed a better record of each marking period, so that I could pick up students of concern and send them to SMT earlier. The solution was the spreadsheet (see method “a”) with links to work. I could make notes that allowed me to quickly determine the reasons for unmarked work, and therefore speedily respond to SMT with reasons why a student’s work was not marked. The student just seen the most up-to-date feedback which removed confusion. The spreadsheet (a) also helped preempt questions regarding student’s of concern. With the help of the spreadsheet, I was able to send a monthly list of students that were not attending my lessons to SMT and therefore intervention was made much earlier.

i) Evernote to show iterations of work. Note shared with student. Timeline of changes visible.
media based

Pros: Free. Quick annotations possible, even on the mobile. So you can make the annotations infront of the student in class. You can include audio of the conversation with the student, add text, speech to text is okay and any future correspondence or notes are easy to add. You can add the student as an editor so they can add work to a single note. Searching for a topic or student is made easy with character recognition ( Character recognition even picks up students handwritten names – I know wow). Assessment was a breeze.
Cons: Student cannot make comments unless they have an Evernote account. Sharing to specific Evernote accounts on the mobile, when you have 100’s of students is a pain. Need a premium account to store notes offline (our internet was not consistent)


J) Google sites to show off work, receive comments etc
Google Sites

Pros: Works similar to a blog. Peer assessment possible
Cons: Not enough moderation tools. Silly comments were frequent and anonymous, students can change the security settings


K) Spreadsheet which is mail merged to a publisher document that was printed for students.
Get student assessment data through a mix of Google forms evaluation, What went well (WWW), even better if(EBI), and your own assessment of work(example). Save and export as spreadsheet. Finally mailmerge.

Pros: If students lost paper copy, you could print it off again
Cons: Student response area on printout did not show recursive development of the work. Took too long to complete. Dependent on working printers. Ours were frequently offline. The internet cut out now and again or the browser would refresh and all work would be lost on Google Forms. I didn’t like setting quizzes at the end of a topic as I preferred students to write up as they went along, otherwise it would prove to be a very boring lesson. I tried to vary the different types of work.


L) Google sheet shared with student. Each piece of work had a link to various forms of feedback. Such as Evernote (notes and annotated scans), – (pdf’s – example), google docs ( student submissions), links to podcasts and links to Google sites comments.
Google Sites

Pros: Varied approach. Good for various types of learners.
Cons: Confusing and fragmented feedback. Too many different areas to look for feedback


The best assessment tool was a blog, I know it sounds biased, that’s because it is. I set up DoComputing because of the positive results from my teaching experience. There are loads of blogs out there. You don’t have to use mine. The moderation tools made feedback and peer assessment a breeze. Work did not stop in the classroom. Students would continue their work without me asking them to. The only downside is that the enthusiasm made planning difficult as some students would be really ahead, while students that did not do any self set homework felt they were behind. But overall I felt the pro’s outweighed the cons.

I would still advise every teacher to have an Evernote account.  Not useful at first, but as your notes grow it becomes more and more useful. You can share a bunch of notes with students as a notebook. For example every lesson I would take a picture of my notes on the whiteboard using a tablet.  I would post these pictures on the blog and set assignments on various topics based on the whiteboard image. I was a big illustrator and relied on the visual prompts especially with EAL and SEN children. The great thing was, at anytime students could search on Evernote for a topic and my handwritten whiteboard notes would appear. Every educator should have Evernote on their desktop, mobile or tablet as there are so many more uses for it than this example. Plus it’s free.

2 thoughts on “The best type of assessment

  1. Mike

    I’ve spent hours researching different methods of assessment. Thanks for putting this comparison of different assessment tools together, I hadn’t even heard of most of these. We usually just use a spreadsheet but we have a huge problem when two people want to use it at the same time.

    1. David Kelly Post author

      If your sharing a spreadsheet on the local network you will experience lockout issues and not be able to save your changes if someone else has it open. The great thing about using Google sheets is that multiple members of staff can make changes at any one time, with no lockout issues. Now that Google have launched their new filtering tool, no one else will be affected by your filters either

      The added benefit is that by saving to the cloud there’s not multiple versions of a spreadsheet stored in an email, on the network or on USB. You have the peace of mind that you are always updating the correct version.


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