Building Assessments

Creating evaluations to monitor and assess learning.

On this page:

The importance of building assessments

Assessments measure student achievement, and therefore whether students have achieved learning outcomes in your course. Recall from Designing Assessments that assessments may be:

  • Diagnostic: To assess current knowledge and misconceptions to better design instruction to meet student needs.
  • Formative: To assess learning as it occurs and adjust instruction and give students feedback on progress for how to improve.
  • Summative: To assess final achievement after instruction has occurred.

Further, activities, assignments and separate assessments can all serve a variety of these purposes. For example, a group research project may proceed by stages in which students are given feedback from the instructor and/or peers to improve their work (formative assessment) as well as a final grade after final submission (summative assessment).

Building assessments

At this point in the design process, you have determined the type of assessments that will be used in your course. It is now time to explore what that assessment will look like, how students will access the information needed for the assessment, as well as how students will submit the assessment. 

For example, a learning outcome may align with students posting in a discussion board with a rubric used as an assessment tool. It is time to determine the expectations and criteria of the discussion board, how often students will post and how they will access the tool.

In this section we will learn how to construct different types of assessments, as well as how to build these in UB Learns.


Assignments are the most frequent assessments students will complete. While these may take a variety of forms, almost all will be submitted and graded through a CMS such as UB Learns. Rubrics are often companions of assignments and can be built into the assignment as an efficient grading tool. The following guides give steps for how to structure and setup assignments in Blackboard (UB Learns).

Step by step instructions to build and grade an assignment in UB Learns.

Assignments allow students to submit files to the instructor. SafeAssign is now integrated into assignments.

Create assignments within Blackboard.

A short video from Blackboard on how to create an assignment.


Rubrics can be used to help guide students in beginning their assignments, as feedback during work, and to assess their final product more clearly and objectively. The following resources give directions for how to build rubrics in UB Learns.

Step by step instructions on how to build a rubric in UB Learns and attach it to an assignment.

Organize and display evaluation criteria.

Step by step instructions on how to build a rubric in Blackboard.

A short video from Blackboard on how to create rubrics in Blackboard.

Third Party Tools

In some cases, your learning management system may not offer the features or capabilities you desire. If you determine that UB supported tools are not aligned to your goals, third party tools are also an option. However, it is important to note that on-campus technical and instructional support is likely unavailable for third party tools.

When exploring and choosing tools, consider these additional questions:

  • What problem does this tool solve?
  • Does the tool meet UB’s accessibility standards?
  • Does the tool meet UB’s privacy standards?
  • How will I receive training, support and troubleshooting assistance with this tool?
  • How will students receive training, support and troubleshooting assistance with this tool?
  • Does the tool create a financial burden for students?

Examples of third-party tools and technologies for classroom use.

Assess the quality of third-party tools prior to adopting them.

Discussion boards

Discussion boards are places for students to collaborate and share their understanding online. The following resources will help you build discussion boards in UB Learns, as well as best practices to create engaging and meaningful discussions.

Step by step instructions on how to build a Discussion Board in UB Learns.

Create forums to have students post and respond to messages.

Create, respond to and manage discussions within Blackboard to collaborate with students.

A short video from Blackboard on how to create Discussion Boards.

A blog post with ideas for using activities within Discussion Boards.

Discussion Board Best Practices to help students collaborate more effectively.

Test and quizzes

Tests and quizzes can be used to assess student progress and give feedback, as well as to measure final outcomes. The following resources explain how to build tests and quizzes in UB Learns and Blackboard, provide advice for writing high-quality test questions, as well as outline how to align question types with learning outcomes.

Step by step instructions on how to build a quiz in UB Learns.

Steps for creating and deploying tests in UB Learns as well as further information about creating questions and question pools.

You can use tests and surveys to measure student knowledge, gauge progress, and gather information from students.

A short video from Blackboard on how to create tests in Blackboard.

UB Learns has a Test Generator where you can add test questions from a Word document.

Learn how to set restrictions, number or attempts and other submission options.

UB resource for creating quiz questions within videos.

Panopto resource for adding quizzes to videos.

Surveying students

While you can ask students to raise their hands for yes/no questions, the following tools allow you to expand the type of feedback you receive from large numbers of students.

Surveys and polls

Web-based surveys and polls let faculty collect information and feedback from students and can also visualize these results. These can be used before instruction to learn what students know, during instruction to understand how students are doing, or after instruction to determine what worked and what needs improvement. Both Zoom and Webex have an integrated polling feature you can use in your online class.


Also known as student response systems, clickers allow real-time student feedback. Using a specialized device or smartphone/laptop/tablet, students can be quickly polled or quizzed, and instructors can use clickers to take attendance or perform formative assessments to gauge comprehension. 

UB supports both Turning Technologies and Top Hat student response systems.

Social Media

Social media is a great way to gather input by creating easy to use ‘backchannels.’ Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, when used with care, can serve as platforms for lively discussions.

The ease at which these platforms link with other online resources allows for a huge variety of learning and discussion applications.

Next steps

Now that you have built your assessments the next step is to build activities.