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Assessment in authentic situations

The authenticity of tasks refers to issues which exist in learners’ daily lives and which were not artificially constructed for didactic or pedagogical purposes. A learning evaluation may be deemed authentic when it presents learners with tasks which both reflect realistic, significant and motivating situations, and contribute to improving their comprehension or allow them to resolve problems which could be encountered in their future professional life, through the demonstration of knowledge, expertise and soft skills. Thus, in an authentic situation, the evaluation tasks allow the teacher to measure complex performances which require from the learner a cognitive and affective investment (such as the transfer of learning in a concrete situation) which, for example, is not really the case for a multiple-choice exam.

An evaluation is considered authentic when it encompasses the following elements (Toolkit 8, p. 8):
- it allows for the judging of the learner’s ability to accomplish intellectually significant tasks;
- it permits learners to demonstrate what they know, what they have learned;
- it confronts the learner with a wide array of contexts and the best learning activities, offering rich and stimulating situations (for example, projects, essays, and discussions);
- it allows learners to work to improve and finetune their responses (product or process); and
- it employs criteria to appreciate the quality of the response.

Guy (2004)
Hivon (1993)
Nguyen, Blais (2007)
Tardif (2006)
Tardif (1993)
Wiggins (1998)

Assessment of a final production

The evaluation of final productions is related to the evaluation of all the learner has produced during his or her training. What is meant by product is the final observable result from the learner’s accomplishment of a complex task during a learning activity or a final evaluation. The product of an evaluation may take the form of a tangible and concrete production (for example, an argumentative text or a work of art) or of a unique performance (for example, a theatrical performance, an interview, or the management of an event). Regular evaluation of processes and discourse, as well as products, is recommended.

Côté (2014)

Collaboration assessment

According to Larousse (2009), collaboration means working in concert with someone else (co and labour) to develop in common a negotiated and consensual solution (p. 370). Responsibility is therefore collective. Every member of the group contributes, there are constant interactions and it is collective actions which allow for the attainment of the common objective. Therefore, the collaboration develops around notions of co-responsibility and accountability. Once the task is complete, it is impossible to determine who exactly did which work.

In a context of evaluation, collaboration includes both an interactive element and a constructive component. The interactive element allows learners to share their knowledge and their competencies. Furthermore, thanks to their complementarities, exchanges, debates, reformulations and decisions, they manage to identify the best way of accomplishing the task or of resolving a problem.

The production of a work in common (for example, the announcement of a project, choreography, or a theatrical piece) in which the learners are very interdependent, or a two-stage exam are among the tools which lend themselves to a collaborative evaluation. At the same time, and depending on the particular learning objectives, the teacher may also evaluate a part of the work done in collaboration in an individualized fashion or turn to peer evaluation.

Howe (2001)
Rieger, Heiner (2014)

Communication between the teacher and the learner

Communication between the teacher (the evaluator) and learners (the evaluated) supposes that they can have a discussion before, during and after the evaluation in order to lead the latter to explain their learning, clarify their thinking, specify their observations or respond to questions. Evaluation is here seen as a tool for dialogue and it fosters more interaction between the teacher and the learner to identify the means that could be implemented in future to ensure student success. Communication could also be tripartite, that is, between the teacher, learner and parents or between the teacher, learner and peers.

Reference :
Durand, Chouinard (2012)

Constructive alignment

Developed by Biggs (1997, 2014), constructive alignment is present when learning, the manner of having students learn and the demonstration of what they have learned are all consistent with the teacher’s pedagogical intentions. Thus, the key is to clearly define the learning objectives, using a taxonomy (for example, the SOLO —Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome or that of Bloom).

Biggs (2014) proposes three stages to operationalize pedagogical alignment:
1) Describe the learning objectives using action verbs from a recognized taxonomy.
2) Create a learning environment, using teaching-learning activities related to the objectives.
3) Draw upon evaluation tasks which allow learners to demonstrate how and what they have learned, always in relation to the learning objectives.

In their concern with pedagogical alignment, teachers ensure that their intentions, the choice of teaching-learning activities, and the way of evaluating learning are all consistent. Pedagogical alignment encourages greater student engagement in the accomplishment of tasks demanded of them and in the adoption of more appropriate study behaviour with a view to the evaluations.

Biggs (1993, 2014)

Criterion-based evaluation

Using a criterion-based grid stems from a criterion-based interpretation which consists of judging an individual’s result without any reference to the overall results obtained by a group of individuals. Evaluation with criterion-based interpretation allows the teacher to judge the learner’s level of accomplishment of tasks and to situate it on a grid constructed as a function of pedagogical objectives pursued in this task. Use of this tool informs the students that the comparison of learners will be on the basis of their performance and their relative ranking since the teacher evaluates each of them as a function of their attainment of the previously established, explained and well-known expectations. This conception of criterion-based interpretation is widespread throughout the literature. Nonetheless, while criterion-based and normative interpretations are very often presented as opposites, in fact, they coexist. The bonus-malus principle in the grading scales is probably the best example of their coexistence.

Côté (2014)
Côté, Tardif, Munn (2011)
Scallon (2015)

Digital Technologies

The term digital technologies is very broad in scope. Our definition includes pedagogical practices that use digital technologies on computers and other electronic devices more broadly (touch tablets, cell phones, connected objects, interactive white boards, etc.). Digital technologies also include resources found on the internet as well as applications and software. We also consider the terms ICT and technologies to be synonyms of digital technologies.

Basque, 2005;
Bourgeois and Ntebutse, 2020;
Couture, 2020;
Fournier and Stockless, 2020;
Moatti, 2012;
Musso, 2008;
Plantard, 2014;
Raby, 2004


E-assessment refers to a variety of activities performed by both teacher and learner using digital technologies to evaluate learning or teaching. To varying degrees, this type of evaluation uses digital technologies throughout the evaluation process.

References: Gikandi et al., 2011; JISC, 2007; Pachler et al., 2010

Expectations in evaluation

Expectations in the context which concerns us here refer, in particular, to the learning objectives and evaluation criteria which should be communicated to the students in advance. It is important to ensure that what the learners must accomplish is precisely and operationally defined.

Scallon (2015)


Feedback consists of a teacher’s written or oral reaction to formative or summative tasks accomplished by the learner, sometimes juxtaposed with a grade. Feedback must be relevant, frequent and as immediate as possible so as to contribute to student learning and success, amongst other positive pedagogical effects.

Feedback is that much more effective if:

1. it is formulated in a constructive manner;
2. it comes immediately after the task;
3. the value of the task is quite significant; and
4. the evaluation situation is such as to favour a detailed response.

Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006, p. 205) have distinguished seven principles for effective feedback practices. Thus, to be effective, feedback must clarify what constitutes a good performance, encourage the development of self-evaluation, provide quality information to students with respect to their learning, encourage dialogue with the instructor and with their peers on the subject of learning, boost motivation and self-esteem, provide an opportunity to diminish the gap between the current performance and that which is expected and, finally, generate information for the teacher that can be used to adjust his or her teaching.

Another model is that proposed by Hattie and Timperley (2007). For them, feedback acts at four levels and must respond to three questions: “Where am I going? How do I proceed? What comes next?” The first question, related to the goals of the task, allows students to situate themselves with respect to their comprehension and what is expected of them. The second offers them the occasion to evaluate their own progress, and learning or implementation strategies. The third permits, amongst other things, the orientation of the responses received to the two previous questions, in association with the goal or a reflection on what must be improved. These three questions, transposed simultaneously in the feedback given while the task is being carried out, would be a major source of support for student engagement.

Feedback can intervene at four levels:
1) Feedback with respect to the task;
2) Feedback on the processing of the task;
3) Feedback on self-regulation (adjustment or metacognition); and
4) Feedback on the subject of “self” or the person (for example, ”Good effort!”).

Brassard (2012)
Durand, Chouinard (2012)
Hattie, Timperley (2007)
Nicol, MacFarlane-Dick (2006)
Pageau (2016)
Rodet (2019)

High cognitive level abilities

High level skills are a collection of cognitive processes which allow individuals to perform complex tasks. These abilities refer initially to Bloom’s taxonomy (1956). Bloom proposes a classification of levels of acquisition of knowledge, and identifies six types of cognitive processes on a continuum which ranges from the simplest to the most complex. In this taxonomy, the abilities to analyze, synthesize and evaluate are considered as being high cognitive level abilities. In 2001, Anderson and Krathwohl revised Bloom’s taxonomy to better suit the aims of the competency-based approach. The competency-based approach favours “the development of learning from authentic situations and from complex problems” (Nguyen and Blais, 2007, p. 232).

Anderson, Krathwohl et al. (2001)
Nguyen, Blais (2007)
Scallon (2015)

In-depth learning

Information processing theories characterize in-depth learning as the utilization of complex cognitive functions such as analysis, evaluation, and knowledge transfer (Greene, 2015). In-depth learning occurs when the learner decides to integrate the notions under study with the goal of mastering them. Learning is said to be in depth if it creatively uses previous knowledge with the objective of developing complex reasoning or if it describes the way in which it came to its conclusions. It contrasts with surface learning which instead aims at the restitution of knowledge (memorization) in a superficial fashion (Greene, 2015). Much of the literature has established links between academic success and in-depth learning, and there is abundant research on the importance of the design of modalities of evaluation to encourage strategies for in-depth studies. (Please see, for example, Baeten et al., 2010; Biggs, 1993; and Dinsmore and Alexander, 2012, 2016).

References :
Baeten, Kyndt, Struyven, Dochy (2010)
Biggs (1993)
Dinsmore, Alexander (2012, 2016)
Greene (2015)

Innovative assessments

In education, the concept of innovation involves the implementation of a change in practice which aims to substantially improve the quality of learning. Introducing novelty in a given context, innovation in evaluation suggests that there has been a break and evolution in the approaches to assessment and in some conceptions of evaluation. In other words, innovation is more likely to occur when an assessment situation is part of a specific issue on which traditional perspectives have been undermined, thus giving rise to reflection and the modification of practices. Consequently, innovating in assessment signifies questioning some operational models, which are deeply embedded in the structures and habits of the education milieu.

In the work of OPIEVA, by innovation, we are referring to assessment practices which incorporate a number of the following characteristics:
- they indicate a reflective practice on the part of the teacher;
- they are centered on learning;
- they are consistent with the learning objectives, the learning activities and the content taught;
- they confront students with authentic situations or problems;
- they use mistakes to help students learn;
- they facilitate feedback;
- they are multidimensional, that is, they allow for the evaluation of a number of aspects;
- they are focussed on the products, the processes and the discourse;
- they are based on professional judgement;
- they integrate evaluation with learning;
- they stem from a criterion-based approach;
- they are based on precise criteria which have been clearly explained and communicated to students;
- they take place under conditions which can be personalized;
- they render the learners autonomous and active;
- they lead to collaboration;
- they generate student participation;
- they aim to develop high level cognitive abilities (through complex tasks);
- they aim for in-depth learning;
- they encourage student commitment; and
- they favour the development of metacognitive strategies.

Albero (2011)
Bédard, Béchard (2009)
Biggs (1996, 1999)
Endrizzi (2012)

Integrating evaluations in the learning process

When evaluation is integrated with learning, the one being evaluated may learn during the evaluation. This is a thoughtful linking of the teacher’s actions, formed by the “teaching-learning-evaluation” triangle. Here, evaluation is at the heart of the pedagogical alignment developed by Biggs (2014).

Biggs (1996, 2014)
Roegiers (2000)

Isolating evaluation from teaching

Evaluation is isolated from teaching when it does not occur in dynamic interaction with learning activities. Learning and evaluation occur at two distinct times. In this situation, the “teaching-learning-evaluation” cycle is linear: the instructor teaches a given content and subsequently evaluates the learning, sometimes a number of weeks later (for example, in a final exam which covers an entire semester). The student learns little while being evaluated; the learning not being much called upon.

Laurier, Tousignant, Morissette (2005)
Roegiers (2012)

Learner's autonomy

Learners who demonstrate autonomy during the evaluation are those who, on their own initiative, draw upon their knowledge, expertise and interpersonal skills. In so doing, they are displaying the capacity to assume control of their own learning. With the goal of increasing the learner’s degree of autonomy in the demonstration of acquisition of knowledge or of the development of a competency in an evaluation situation, the teacher should abstain from overly explaining the instructions. Thus, the explanations, the indices, the adjustments and other feedback which the teacher generally provides the learner in a learning situation must gradually subside. In this way, the learner will be better able to demonstrate that he or she can reflect and draw upon useful resources by himself or herself. To the degree that the learner’s independence grows, so too does the self-regulation which evaluations should take into account.

Scallon (2015)
Scallon (2004)
Talbot (2001)
Tardif (2006)

Learner's motivation

Motivation at school is a concept which has been extensively studied in education, from a number of angles, since the 1980s (Carré and Fenouillet, 2019). Viau (1994) proposes the following definition: “Motivation in the school context is a dynamic state with its origins in students’ perceptions of themselves and of their environment, and which leads them to choose an activity, to become involved in it and to persevere in their accomplishment in order to reach a goal” (p. 7). The motivation of a learner may fluctuate and is influenced by different variables, such as the required tasks, the context of the task, or his or her personal interests. Faced with a pedagogical activity, learners’ motivations have three determinants: the perception that they have of the value of the activity, the perception that they have the skill to do this, and their perception of being able to control how this unfolds (Viau, Joly and Bédard, 2004, p. 165).

Brault-Labbé, Dubé (2010)
Carré, Fenouillet (2009)
Deci, Ryan (1985)
Lafrenière, Vallerand, Carbonneau (2009)
Viau (1994)
Viau, Joly, Bédard (2004)
Viau, Louis (1997)

Learner's participation in the evaluation process

The learner’s participation in the evaluation process of his or her learning can occur in particular through self-evaluation, co-evaluation or peer evaluation. Self-evaluation allows students to evaluate themselves and to organize themselves in relation to the learning objectives or competencies to develop. This practice contributes to making them personally aware of their progress, of their strengths and of their challenges. It also leads to a reflection on strategies and on how they could adjust the efforts in future to better succeed.

Peer evaluation and co-evaluation permit the learner not only to evaluate other learners, but also to develop a critical spirit and to encourage a reflective approach vis-à-vis his or her own productions.

Roy, Michaud (2018)


Memorization is the “function of the memory by which the subject fixes the phenomena experienced, diverse knowledge, etc., either spontaneously, or with the help of mnemonic or methodological procedures” (Centre de ressources textuelles et lexicales). It is associated with surface learning which is defined as the intentional utilisation of basic cognitive actions (such as learning by heart, or repetition), aiming more for mechanical repetition than significant comprehension of content to be learned. Surface learning is correlated with performance goals aiming to meet particular requirements (for example, to have a good grade), while in-depth learning aims for the mastery of the concepts learned.

While memorization is a necessary faculty in any situation of evaluation, it should not constitute the principal cognitive activity expected from the learner, since developed mnemonic faculties do not necessarily signify a thorough comprehension of the concepts under study.

Baeten, Kyndt, Struyven, Dochy (2010)
Craik, Lockhart (1972)
Durand, Chouinard (2012)
Greene (2015)
Greene, Miller, Crowson, Duke, Akey (2004)
Greene, Miller (1996)
Scallon (2004)

Metacognitive strategies

Metacognition encompasses (Gombert, 1990; p. 27):
1) individuals’ conscious introspective knowledge of their own conditions and cognitive processes; and
2) these individuals’ capacities to deliberately control and plan their own cognitive processes to achieve a particular goal or objective.

The concepts of metacognition, self-evaluation and self-regulation are often used interchangeably in the literature (Dinsmore, Alexander and Loughlin, 2008).

In a metacognitive process, self-evaluation corresponds to learners’ awareness of what they are in the process of doing and, therefore, amongst other things:
- of their characteristics as learners (Lafortune and Dubé, 2004);
- of who they are when confronted with a task, according to their history as learners, their present and their future (Morissette, 2002);
- of their organizational strategies (Scallon, 1997);
- of the stages of their learning process, difficulties encountered, improvements made and of how they would describe their progress (Scallon, 1997);
- of their cognitive and metacognitive strategies (Louis, 1999); and
- of the resulting learning (Scallon, 1997).

Dinsmore, Alexander, Loughlin (2008)
Gombert (1990)
Lafortune, Dubé (2004)
Louis (1999)
Morissette (2002)
Romainville, Noël, Wolfs (1995)
Scallon (1997)

Normative interpretation

Comparing learners falls under normative interpretation. This consists of interpreting the result of an individual by comparing it to a given group or a recognized threshold. Normative interpretation is often used to compare individuals and to rank-order them according to their success rate.

Scallon (2015)
Vial (2012)

Online Teaching Methods

Online teaching methods or environments allow learners and teachers to interact despite physical or temporal distance. The three most commonly identified methods are distinguished by their proportion of online activities: enriched classroom, hybrid, and distance. Most enriched classroom teaching occurs in person. Hybrid classes combine classroom learning and distance learning in various proportions. Distance learning is offered primarily online. Online exchanges can be simultaneous (synchronous) or offline (asynchronous).

Allen and Seaman, 2013;
Bates, 2019;
Forget-Dubois, 2020;
Lakhal et al., 2015

Personalizing evaluation conditions

Personalizing evaluation conditions is an expression used by Scallon (2004) which signifies allowing students to be evaluated or to have evaluations take place in optimal conditions, to encourage their academic success. Beyond the question of individualized arrangements to the benefit of learners with special needs (for example, submitting homework at a later date, and having more time to do an exam), this expression suggests, above all, a respect for the efforts of learners, who are all unique. For example, teachers-evaluators should show learners that they respect their work sufficiently, by giving them particular sustained, constructive and individual, as well as collective, attention. Although personalized, the teacher’s feedback after evaluations should not bear on the personality of learners, but should concentrate instead on the learning accomplished. Personalizing the evaluation conditions may also be accomplished with tools such as descriptive grids and criterion-based performances which allow for differentiated judgements.

Côté, Tardif, Munn (2011)
Scallon (2004)

Process assessment

The process and the discourse, in addition to the product, constitute the principal dimensions on which the teacher’s professional judgement can be based at the time of evaluation. When evaluating the process, the teacher is interested in students’ learning process, their working methods, and their proposed attempts to find solutions, as well as in their errors. When evaluating the discourse, the teacher is most interested in the learner’s remarks with regard to their learning. The teacher may question students, orally or in writing, on the learning they believe they have accomplished, but may also ask them to evaluate themselves (for example, on their strengths and weaknesses, and measures for improvement) or to situate themselves with respect to justifications, ideas, or solutions they have been offered when accomplishing the task. Thus, the learner’s remarks serve to show why and how he or she has taken certain decisions and to support, in a complementary fashion, the evaluation of the product or the process of his or her learning.

Côté (2014)

Professional judgement

Professional judgement is a process of decision-making based on the collection of information through various means. This process also includes the justification of the choice of these means and the sharing of results from a perspective of coordination (Lafortune and Allal, 2008, p. 24). It leads to situating the learning as a function of requirements and objectives.

The judgement is a professional act stemming from the evaluator‘s responsibility and which, as a consequence, can neither claim to be totally objective nor to be reducible to cumulative reasoning (Scallon, 2015). To be considered professional, the judgement must be well argued and documented. Thus, a professional judgement must be:
- documented;
- adaptive;
- based on autonomy and responsibility; and
- ethical and consistent with a collection of values.

In particular, to effectively exercise professional judgement, the teacher should employ a variety of evaluations, use grids to describe his or her judgement and examine the entirety of a student’s performances and learning from a cohesive perspective when determining the grades.

Lafortune, Allal (2008)
Leroux, Bélair (2015)
Mottier Lopez, Allal (2010)
Scallon (2015)

Reflective practice in evaluation

The reflective practice is a process which consists of taking a critical look at one’s actions before, during and after the action. It fosters an awareness of one’s beliefs, so that one’s practice may evolve, based on well-reasoned argumentation. The reflective practitioner analyzes his or her actions in order to make adjustments. The reflective practice allows for the reinforcement of a feeling of competence, and it is always anchored in the context of the action. It often forms the foundation of a strategy of professional development.

In evaluation, the reflective practice consists essentially of questioning one’s values and habits (for example, becoming conscious of one’s biases, being careful to be transparent, and ensuring the accuracy and validity of one’s instruments) to adopt assessment practices which harmoniously blend with the teaching, and which are centered on learning.

In theoretical terms, the reflective practice is a vast concept which should not be taken lightly. Here, we will simply observe that there are a number of models of reflective practice and multiple strategies for applying it.

Colin, Karsenti, Komis (2013)
Dewey (1933)
Schön (1984)

The learning-centered paradigm in education

Teachers who ascribe to the learning-centered paradigm are concerned with the learners above all. They aim to transform information and learning into viable and transferable knowledge. They encourage the integration of knowledge, the construction of knowledge and the creation of dynamic pedagogical relations. Here, the aim is the development of competencies, support for the learner, and guidance. In helping students to learn, teachers are recognizing that they are responsible for the process. Knowledge is neither cumulative nor linear, but rather conceived as resources to draw upon in order to accomplish a task.

References :
Durand, Chouinard (2012)
St-Germain (2008)

Traditional assessments

By tradition in evaluation, we mean practices principally centered on teaching and rooted in a measurement approach (Vial, 2012). The traditional perspective on evaluation is normative and considers knowledge from a utilitarian point of view. Associated more with holding exams to assess the knowledge acquired (for example, through the use of multiple-choice tests) and the obtention of graded results, leading to a classification, this perspective favors the evaluation of knowledge which can be compartmentalized and is quantifiable. According to the Conseil supérieur de l’education du Québec, traditional evaluation practices serve, above all, to control situations and evaluative tasks.

In the work of OPIEVA, by tradition, we mean assessment practices corresponding to a number of the following characteristics:
- the teacher has confidence in his or her practices and does not question them;
- they are centered on teaching;
- they are separated from the teaching;
- they are concerned with artificial or school problems;
- they do little to facilitate descriptive feedback;
- they are unidimensional; they only allow for the evaluation of the cognitive dimension;
- the product is the principal focus;
- they are based on objectivity;
- they take place at distinct times of the learning process;
- they stem from a normative approach;
- they are based on undefined and little described expectations;
- they occur under identical conditions for everyone;
- they serve as rewards;
- they are trials for learners;
- they take place individually;
- they are planned and designed by the teacher;
- as a consequence, they develop low level cognitive abilities (simple tasks);
- they encourage superficial learning;
- they encourage little student engagement; and
- they do not particularly target the development of metacognitive strategies.

Conseil supérieur de l’éducation (2018)
Vial (2012)


There is no consensus in the literature on the definition of school commitment (Bernet, 2010). However, there is consensus on the importance of engagement for learning and, with a few nuances, a number of scholars recognize the following aspects of this: behavioural, affective and cognitive (Azevedo, 2015; Brault-Labbé and Dubé, 2010; and Greene, 2015). Behavioural engagement is evident in the participation of learners in academic social life: their interactions, their participation, and their presence in the classroom. Affective engagement is embodied in their interests and values: their enthusiasm and feeling of belonging. The cognitive aspect is characterized by learners’ decisions to become involved (like their degree of interest in their courses), the intensity of this engagement (such as the number of hours spent studying) and the persistence at the task (such as study habits). We can observe these manifestations of engagement in the student’s learning strategies and self-regulation (Barbeau, 2007; and Pintrich, 2004).

The literature shows that the fact of being engaged in one’s learning does not stem solely from internal psychological characteristics in themselves and that engagement can be affected by the interactions experienced in the context of training, as well as by the pedagogical structure of teaching-learning and evaluation situations (Biggs, 1996; Christenson, Reschly and Wylie, 2012; and Fredricks and McColskey, 2012).

Azevedo (2015)
Barbeau (2007)
Bernet (2010)
Biggs (1996)
Brault-Labbé, Dubé (2010)
Christenson, Reschly, Wylie (2012)
Fredricks, McColskey (2012)
Greene (2015)
Gronlund et Cameron (2004)
Kahu (2013)
Sinatra, Heddy, Lombardi (2015)

The teaching-centered paradigm in education

In the teaching-centered paradigm, the principal aim is the acquisition of knowledge dispensed by the teacher, the sole individual responsible for the teaching process. The teacher’s process of transmission to the students favours memorization, the accumulation of knowledge and the comparison of some learners’ knowledge with that of others. There is not necessarily any feedback provided to the learners involved in this transmission. They are perceived as passive vehicles, handling knowledge which they will be able to use during exams. Here, evaluation results are compared to a norm.

Durand, Chouinard (2012)
St-Germain (2008)