Educational Performance Assessment: Definition and Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 21, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A performance assessment, also known as a performance review, evaluation, or examination, can improve learning experiences and evaluate the effectiveness of a learning environment. Performance evaluations allow students to exhibit their knowledge in different ways, such as writing essays, creating portfolios, and managing research. Understanding how performance reviews work can help you determine the most effective methods of instruction. In this article, we explain what a performance evaluation is, examine why educators use them, provide tips for conducting one, list its benefits, and answer frequently asked questions.

What is an educational performance assessment?

A performance assessment measures how well students apply their knowledge, skills, and abilities to real problems. During a performance evaluation, students engage in tasks, such as writing a report, conducting an experiment, or completing and presenting a project. Educators then measure the results of the tasks against specific criteria. An effective performance assessment task includes real-world scenarios, authentic, complex processes, higher-order thinking, and transparent evaluation criteria. Teachers may use performance reviews to personalize their courses. They can also use them as part of a more comprehensive assessment process in combination with other forms of educational assessments.

Why do educators use performance examinations?

Through a performance review, educators can assess how well students understand specific topics and how well they can apply their knowledge in hands-on situations. For example, a teacher may ask students to present a project, answer an open-ended question, or complete an activity. Educators may also instruct a student to write an analytical thesis, perform an investigation, create a portfolio of their finest work, or write an original research paper.

Teachers may benefit from conducting performance examinations before beginning a new lesson to understand how students are currently performing on a topic. They can also conduct the assessment again at the end of the lesson to determine whether the activities throughout the course were helpful. By conducting a performance evaluation, teachers can determine how well students are progressing through various areas of the curriculum. Depending on the results of the assessment, educators can then adjust their lesson plans accordingly to help ensure the students are succeeding.

Tips for performing a successful performance evaluation

The following tips can be helpful when performing a performance assessment:

Promote self-evaluation

Students can evaluate and reflect on their performance to determine whether the lessons or information the teacher presents are contributing to their learning experience. An instructor can then use those evaluations to assess the effectiveness of their teaching more accurately. Students can also offer suggestions on how to enhance learning cultivation in the future, which may lead to an innovative change in teaching.

Related: How to Perform a Self-Assessment

Set goals

It's essential to have clear and concise learning objectives when developing a performance assessment. When you identify goals, you can better understand what types of measures to use while evaluating assessments. Identifying goals can also help give students a sense of security about what to expect and make adjusting to lesson plans easier. To simplify the important materials from class, students may also create personal learning objectives.

Related: Performance Review Goals (Definition, Types, and Importance)

Engage students

Engaging students and keeping their attention is a crucial aspect of performance examination. It's important to create meaningful performance review questions and activities that may motivate students to use their full potential. Students may feel more engaged with the content if they look at relatable situations or visuals in the questions.

Develop rubric criteria

The rubric criteria serve as a basis for comparison and a guide by which people, like educators, can assess the intelligence of an individual. Establishing criteria or rubrics is key to assessing performance. The rubric helps students understand what the performance review is testing for, how to complete the assessment, and how they can achieve specific grades or scores. Students can use the information from the rubric as the basis for conducting experiments or writing reports to show their understanding. Developing criteria can also be helpful for instructors to determine whether the rubric effectively calculates student performance.

Related: Methods and Criteria for Assessing Employees (With Tips)

Benefits of performance evaluations

Here are a few benefits of performance examinations:

Direct student observation

Teachers can use performance examinations to assess areas of learning that traditional methods rarely evaluate. Traditional assessments focus primarily on isolated tasks, facts, or memorized information at a moderate skill level. It may be difficult to measure progress towards learning objectives when using traditional assessments. For example, a secondary physical education teacher's primary goal is mostly to teach a student how to play a game or do physical activity. While skill tests evaluate discrete skills in a relatively uniform environment, they rarely assess the ability to use these skills during actual gameplay.

Instructional alignment

Instructional alignment is when the objectives, assessments, and content of a learning experience align. Performance examinations lead to strong alignment between instruction and assessment, which can enhance student learning. The purpose of instructional alignment is to test what teachers teach. Teachers apply instructional alignment principles by determining a learning target, then teaching to that target. Performance evaluations emphasize instructional alignment because they instruct students to perform tasks as a part of the assessment.

Reliable feedback

Students often receive high-quality feedback during performance reviews because one of the primary purposes of performance examinations is to provide feedback to students about their progress. The rubrics involved in performance evaluations also allow students to self-assess and peer-assess during the assessment process. Performance examinations can also provide feedback to the teacher that can help to guide their instructional approaches and practices.

Related: Helpful Self-Evaluation Questions (With Definition and Tips)

Active learning

A performance review can empower students because the process gives them the option to decide how their learning may proceed, within the limitations established by their teachers. This can motivate students to take control over their learning. The motivation to learn and to enhance understanding strengthens a student's ability to absorb lessons and perform well in the classroom. The requirement to perform tasks as part of an evaluation can lead to better retention of knowledge and long-term educational and professional success.

Emphasis on thinking skills

Students use thinking skills, such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, during performance examinations. When students get more opportunities to apply their thinking skills, their proficiency is more likely to increase. For example, during physical education classes, a teacher may assign students a scouting assignment in which they analyze the skills and strategies of their future sporting opponents.

Performance examination FAQs

Here are a few frequently asked questions about performance evaluations:

Are performance evaluations graded?

The reasoning behind a performance review determines whether students receive a grade. Assigning grades to performance reviews may not be necessary if educators are using the evaluations to develop curriculum, lesson plans, and the pace of student learning. A teacher who grades performance evaluations can inform students of the criteria to receive a successful assessment grade.

What are the different types of educational performance reviews?

Here are some common types of performance evaluations:

  • Standardized assessments: The assessment of a student's knowledge that results in a score or grade. Examples include intelligence quotient (IQ) tests, advanced placement (AP) exams, and postsecondary education readiness (PERT) tests.

  • Summative: Students complete summative assessments towards the end of an instructional unit to assess their learning by comparing it to a criterion or standard. A summative assessment may include a midterm exam or a mid-semester project.

  • Interim assessments: Multiple assessments that educators use as criteria to identify the success of lesson plans. During this time, instructors typically update teaching materials and lessons.

How can you prepare for a performance examination?

Teachers typically share a rubric and list of criteria with students before performing the assessment. Students can use the rubric to form a checklist of steps to complete preparing themselves for the performance evaluation. It may also prove beneficial to study the materials learnt in class to ensure a throughout understanding of the subject. Educators may implement practice assessments or assignments that can help students become more comfortable with the assessment process. Practicing and familiarizing yourself with a process can reduce possible anxiety that may interfere with performance.

How do teachers create performance evaluations?

Educators consider the following factors when designing performance exams:

  • The objectives: As an example, a teacher may determine the primary goal to be the development of formulating critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

  • The course standards: It's important for teachers to determine the focus of the performance review. For example, a math teacher may use a performance evaluation to examine if students can apply probability rules and conditional probability in real-world scenarios.

  • The teaching plan: Structured learning typically involves a teaching plan that requires constant review and revision based on student progress.

Related: How to Answer Interview Assessment Questions With Confidence

Explore more articles