Goal-Oriented Assessment

With the existing transition from traditional education inspired by the notion of standardization toward more recent approaches, there is an emphasis on treating students as individuals. Taking this individualist approach seems necessary in both teaching the course content and assessing the student work. In “The Puzzle of Motivation” Pink discussed the trio of autonomy, mastery, and purpose as the most important aspects of self-actualization, which is somehow missing in today’s world of business and education. Also, Elbow (1993) discussed a number of problems associated with rank-based assessments and the benefits of qualitative evaluation methods. The contemporary way of looking at education and the two arguments made by Pink and Elbow call for a need for individual goal-oriented assessments. In the context of prevalent practice in higher education, there is typically no place for such integrated assessment methods. The common approach is that students take a number of different core and elective courses each with a separate assessment method. Although there are some levels of autonomy in selecting the elective course, the existing teaching methods do not really encourage autonomy, mastery, and any individual purpose other than passing the course and moving to the next semester. Nor is there a goal-oriented assessment attached to a self-development plan based on the gradual mastery of the curricular content. I believe the major takeaway of the Pink and Elbow’s argument for contemporary pedagogical practices is that beyond base-line assessment techniques, instructors need to work with students to develop an individual self-development plan. Then, based on primarily qualitative assessment methods, instructors should help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and move toward their self-set goals. Pursuing a set of goals that have personal meanings while receiving proper feedback directed toward personal achievement could increase intrinsic motivation and lead to student success (Cherry, 2017).


  • Cherry, K. (2017). Intrinsic motivation. (Blog Post)
  • Elbow, P. (1993). Ranking, evaluating, and liking: Sorting out three forms of judgment. College English55(2), 187-206.
  • Pink, D. (2009) The Puzzle of Motivation. (YouTube Video)

5 thoughts on “Goal-Oriented Assessment

  1. saloumeh12

    I think you brought up an important issue in academic assessment. I totally agree that the assessment process needs to be individualized, and you suggested some appropriate options to achieve this goal. I just wanted to add that it would also be helpful to give students a variety of opportunities (such as some small projects or extra credit activities related to the topic of the course) to assess their performance.


  2. Arash

    I like the points you make about individual assessment criteria. I was tinkling that strict deadlines can also be turned into soft timelines so that students can work at a pace they are more comfortable with to increase their productivity while keeping stress level to minimum.


  3. nedamoayerian

    Thank you very much for your informative post. I especially like the way you approach the grading problem by focusing on students’ self-interest and choice. Autonomy over the content and method of learning is definitely one of the most important (yet forgotten) aspects of education which can, in my view, positively impact one’s personal development.


  4. Yan Wang

    Armin, Thanks for the post! Do you think that the advisor-ship of PhD students is close to the assessment system that you are talking about? I feel like the self-development plan is similar to our plan of study, but in reality, POS normally plays a role of an administrative form.



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