Conducting Direct Assessments

Direct assessments (or direct measures) of a learning outcome "reveal what students know and can do [while] indirect measures suggest why performance was above or below expectations and what might be done to improve the processes of education" (Banta, 2004, p. 5).  Using a combination of direct and indirect measures is advisable, because they offer complementary information.  However, assessment plans must include direct measures in order to supply credible information for decision-making (Palomba & Banta, 1999).

Below are some direct assessments that engineering programs nationwide have found useful.  The pages below are intended to 

  • spark ideas that may prove useful for a department's assessment plan
  • help departments draw on established classroom assignments as direct assessments and 
  • offer concrete tips for selecting, designing, implementing, and scoring each assessment.


For additional ideas, please contact us (



Banta, T. W.  (2004). Introduction: What are some hallmarks of effective practice in assessment?  In T. W. Banta (Ed.) Hallmarks of Effective Outcomes Assessment.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Palomba, C. A. & Banta, T. W. (1999). Assessment Essentials: Planning, Implementing, and Improving Assessment in Higher Education.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.