The key to effectively assessing your students' mastery of skills is to match the assessment method to the learning objectives. If a learning objective of your class is to have students understand the differences between Eastern Orthodox and Catholic architecture in the 15th century, then a research paper may be more appropriate than a multiple-choice exam.
Some of the more common types of assessments include:
Short-answer or problem-solving exam
Performance-based ("authentic") - interpreting a piece of music, writing a computer program, constructing a three-dimensional model of a scientific concept, etc.
"Minute Essays" - at the end of a class/unit, students take 5 minutes to write about what they have learned, and how it relates to a learning objective
"Peer Teaching" - after a short lecture about a new concept, have students work in pairs and explain that concept to each other
"Question Time" - students are given an index card and asked to record two questions they have about the material covered in lecture that day/week. Allow time in the next class period to respond to some of the more common questions
"5 Minute Quiz" - at the beginning of class, give students one or two questions over material covered in the previous class session. Discuss answers and do a show of hands to see how many understand the concepts.
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