Choice Within Assessments


Giving students more control over the assessment process is a great way to personalise the learning experience for each student. Subject enrolments often include students from a wide range of disciplines, and differentiated assessment tasks can be developed to cater for this diversity. Questions can be aligned with different discipline areas that ask students to draw on those unique aspects of their experience. Students could also have choice around the type of artefact they may produce, allowing them an opportunity to express and communicate in different forms. Providing students the opportunity to produce assessment items which relate to their chosen field is motivational as well as practical. As described by Bosco and Ferns, such assessment practices nurture graduate employment capabilities (2014, p. 289). Students come away from their studies with artefacts and experience relevant to the workplace.


Providing differentiated assessment opportunities can better reveal how well students are learning specific topics and help change instruction to emphasise students’ abilities to adapt and learn (Schwartz & Arena, 2013). Designing assessments that provide opportunities for choice motivates students to learn the material in a more meaningful way.

The student cohort for online learning courses at CSU is quite diverse in terms of the age, location and experience, and this can be a significant asset to a group of learners. Providing students with a choice between multiple questions, pathways and artefacts allows that diversity to be drawn out and engage their creativity. Allowing students to apply their own discipline knowledge and draw on their own experiences in their assessment makes the task easier to relate to and more authentic.

In Practice


ETL523 Digital Citizenship in Schools

Teaching Staff

Julie Lindsay


This subject is in the postgraduate degree Master of Education in Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation (School of Information Studies). The focus of Assignment 1: Digital citizenship Learning Module was to work in a small team and create an authentic online learning module, demonstrating a range of digital and media affordances of the web environment as well as understanding of the needs of schools and institutions at the time. Assignment 2 asked students to be able to articulate and reflect on the role of an information leader, examine their school or institution, provide an overview of the issues and write a report or develop an information policy or set of guidelines that support digital citizenship and digital learning in schools.


For Assignment 1, each diverse team (3-5 students) choose a suitable topic and subtopics and the learning module was collaboratively created using a wiki (Wikispaces). Each student will then choose a multimedia tool or tools and created a personal digital artefact to complement the learning module material.

The Assignment 2 report was typically distributed to leadership within the school/institution and once again propelled this task into a professional realm. In effect it often prevented students from being too critical of what they saw (and were experiencing), encouraging facts and then synthesised discussion and some solutions via a proposed plan of improvement.

You can find out more about this subject in this Case Study.


HRM310 Developing Human Resources

Teaching Staff

Pete Millet


This strategy was deployed to ensure students are motivated by working within an authentic, relevant context. Students are asked to select a business and identify a group which they then develop a needs analysis report for. The needs analysis allows students to apply theories covered within the subject to a real-world setting. Often this setting is the student’s own workplace.


Implementing choice such as this is quite simple. The main consideration for a lecturer is to devise a situation or task for the student which allows them to demonstrate what they are learning while drawing on their own life experiences. In this instance students consider their own workplace as if they are human resource management professionals.

No additional resources to those found within Interact2 are required. With this example students submitted a report through EASTS. It would be fair to assume that other disciplines could follow this widely used approach.

Stock image of divergent paths


Choice-based assessments are those in which students are given some element of choice, at some point during the entire assessment process, in how they meet defined learning objectives. Allowing choice in assessment and learning will have the impact of increasing student motivation to learn and enhancing the development of skills they may need in professional workplace settings. Digital technologies can make choice-based assessments much more convenient to design and organise.

There are a number of assessment formats to provide greater choice to students in their assessment tasks:


Some of the tools that enable choice within assessment tasks include:

Additional Resources

Bosco, A., & Ferns, S. (2014). Embedding authentic assessment in work-integrated learning curriculum. Asia-Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education 15(4), 281-290. Retrieved from

Pacharn, P., Bay, D. & Felton, S. (2013). The impact of a flexible assessment system on students’ motivation, performance and attitude, Accounting Education, 22(2), 147-167. doi:10.1080/09639284.2013.765292

Schwartz, D.L., & Arena, D.A. (2013). Measuring what matters most: Choice-based assessments for the digital age. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Retrieved from

Stefanou, C. R., Perencevich, K. C., DiCintio, M., & Turner, J. C. (2004). Supporting autonomy in the classroom: Ways teachers encourage student decision making and ownership. Educational Psychologist, 39(2), 97-110. Retrieved from

Strunk, V. & Willis, J. (2017, February 13). Digital badges and learning analytics provide differentiated assessment opportunities. Educause Review. Retrieved from