TAGS: Developing Assignments and Assessments

Some international students may have a difficult time adjusting to the type of assignments and tests that are often required in U.S. University context. Many students will have little experience with the kind of academic writing expected at UD; others have little experience with classroom based assessment procedures. 

When developing assignments:
  • Recognize that non-native speakers may require more time to complete reading and writing assignments than native English speakers. Fluent non-native speakers read 50-70% more slowly in a foreign language than in their native language, and also spend much greater time generating text for written assignments (Grabe 2009). Consider giving assignments well in advance of their due date so that all students will have time to complete them. 
  • Include clear assignment sheets that include specific goals and expectations. Provide a rubric that clearly articulates criteria for assessment.
  • Offer models or examples of successful papers, reports, and other types of assignments.
  • Explain assignments orally in class as well as on paper (or online). Allow time in class to answer questions about assignments.
  • Consider requiring a draft of written assignments and creating opportunities for students to get feedback. Providing input throughout the process will ensure students stay on track.
  • Scaffold assignments so they build on previous knowledge and vocabulary.

When developing assessments:

  • Try to provide study guides.
  • Consider offering review sessions.
  • Because both reading and writing in a foreign language is more cognitively demanding than in one’s native language, consider allowing extended time on tests. This will provide a more accurate assessment of student learning.
  • Assess using multiple measures.
  • On essay tests, provide several prompts for students to choose from. This can help reduce cultural issues that may arise from a particular prompt.