In curriculum-embedded assessment samples of course-based learning activities (e.g., essays, class presentations, exam questions etc.) are used as evidence of the achievement of learning outcomes.

Advantages of curriculum-embedded assessment include:

  • Reduced time spent on data collection – the assignments and activities are already completed;
  • Provides authentic assessments that are truly representative of the program curriculum –allows for feedback that is directly applicable to the program its course offerings;
  • Requires no extra work from students – also ensures students were motivated to perform well.

Embedding Assessment in Your Course Curriculum

There are several approaches for embedding assessment strategies into a course curriculum. Existing learning artifacts may be extracted for review and analysis. For example, a required class presentation may be evaluated for evidence of communication skills.

Alternatively, learning activities that target specific learning outcomes may also be added to course requirements or exams. For example, all fourth year students may be asked to answer the same question about ethics on a year-end exam to evaluate their competency in that area.

Single items or artifacts can be evaluated individually or compiled into a portfolio or e-portfolio and assessed collectively.

Considerations for Curriculum-Embedded Assessment

Although embedded assessment can greatly reduce your data collection time, the time is takes to evaluate and assess that data may be considerable. Different evaluation criteria are often applied in the assessment of learning outcomes that are used to determine individual grades.

Embedded assessment requires a great deal of faculty compliance and commitment. This can be difficult to achieve when faculty resist being told what to include on their exams or as assignments.

Faculty-compliance can be even more complicated when there are multiple instructors for the same course, or when instructors of a course change from year-to-year.

For these reasons, embedded assessment may not always be appropriate for every unit.

The following PowerPoint presentation from Chaffey College further outlines strengths and weaknesses of embedded assessment, and provides a handy how-to guide for implementing this strategy.

References and Resources

Cummings, R., Maddux, C. D., & Richmond, A. (2008). Curriculum-embedded performance assessment in higher education: Maximum efficiency and minimum disruption. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 33, 599-605.

Kenny, N. & Demarais, S. (2012). A Guide to Developing and Assessing Learning Outcomes at the University of Guelph. Office of the Associate Vice-President (Academic).

Wilson, M. & Sloane, K. (2000). From Principles to Practice: An Embedded Assessment System. Applied Measurement in Education, 13, 181-208.