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A performance-based assessment requires a student to perform a task or series of actions, often to the assessor/assessing team and/or a live audience. Performance-based assessments test how well you can demonstrate your fluency and mastery of certain behaviours, actions or movements. They are commonly used within Drama or Creative Arts programmes and are also frequently used within the Health Professions in the form of formalised role-play performances such as OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Examinations). 

Typically used to….

  • assess students’ fluency and mastery of certain behaviours, actions or movements.
  • evaluate subject mastery or knowledge (by asking students to show what they can do with what they know).
  • evaluate presentation, oral or visual communication skills.
  • assess stage management or directing skills.

Key considerations when using performance for assessment

Performance is an example of a more traditional assessment type, elements of which may be enabled by digital technologies. In addition, performance can be considered as an “umbrella”, encompassing a range of other assessment types including presentation, debate, oral examination and multimedia artefact.

For example, students may be asked to pre-record and share a short ‘microviva’ to evidence thought ownership. Longer oral examinations may be facilitated in a synchronous or ‘live’ environment using a virtual classroom or teleconferencing tool.

When using performance as part of your assessment strategy, keep the following points in mind:

  • What is the purpose of the performance? Is it the most appropriate way to assess student learning outcomes in this instance?
  • Are you intending to use the performance for formative or summative assessment purposes, or both?
  • What criteria will you use to assess the students’ performance? Have you provided students with a rubric? Does the rubric align with the relevant learning outcomes?
  • Will the performance be ‘live’ or will you ask students to pre-record their performance? For example you might ask students to pre-record and share a short ‘microviva’ to evidence thought ownership.
  • If the performance is ‘live’, do you need to record it? (For example for moderations purposes?) If so, make sure that you are adhering to Trinity’s Privacy Policy and to the University's Records Management Policy.
  • Does the performance focus on individual or group responses?
  • Have you provided students with clear guidelines on the format and requirements of a performance in your discipline? For example, do they have a clear understanding of procedural requirements?
  • How long will your students’ performance be? Performances can vary enormously in duration, depending on how they are being used and what they’re being used for. For example, longer oral examinations (one type of performance) are typically used at PhD level to test a candidate’s engagement with the literature base and to probe their original contribution to knowledge. However, they can be used at any point on the undergraduate or graduate assessment cycle. Short ‘microvivas’ can be very useful for checking that students have completed work themselves and understand the ‘process’ of calculations and/or concepts.
  • Remember that your students may not have “performed” in a digital context before. Check what institutional supports and guides are provided for this and share with your students in advance.
  • Have you provided supports for students with additional needs? For example, a soft copy of the assessment brief in written format may be useful for students with a hearing disability or those English as an Additional Language? See the Trinity Disability Service for more information.


Trinity-supported tools:

A student perspective on performance

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