This form of assessment requires students to perform hands-on tasks, such as writing an essay or conducting a science experiment. Such assessments are becoming increasingly common as alternatives good old "memorize, dump, and forget" tests. This concept is also known as authentic assessment.
When using performance assessments in outcomes-based systems, it is necessary to considering the following
Identify meaningful outcomes.
Define performance standards in sufficiently broad terms or in ways that emphasize growth.
Create enough flexibility in the assessment system to accommodate individual student needs.
Employ multiple data-gathering strategies including on-demand assessments, examples of student work, and teacher judgments.
Taken from Science and Engineering Indicators '93
This method of assessment asks students to "create an answer or product that demonstrates their knowledge or skills". They may take the form of any number of tests that evaluate student performance including conducting experiments, answering open-response questions, computing mathematics equations, presenting an oral argument, writing an essay, and creating a portfolio of work accomplished throughout the school year. Performance-based assessments generally
allow students to create their own response rather than to choose between several already created answers;
are criterion-referenced, or provide a standard according to which a student's work is evaluated rather than in comparison with other students;
concentrate on the problem-solving process rather than on just obtaining the correct answer; and
require that trained teachers or others carefully evaluate the assessments and provide consistency across scorers.
Performance-based assessment has been gaining support as an alternative or supplement to traditional standardized tests. Proponents suggest that performance assessments more closely link assessment and instruction, more accurately measure the mathematic and scientific skills and knowledge, and allow a more complete account of student academic development.
One form of performance-based assessment is portfolio assessment. Students compile and submit a collection of work in a specific subject area completed during a given period of time. Supporters argue that portfolios encourage students to work to their best abilities and constantly improve their work. Portfolios can
provide a more complete picture of student ability by incorporating measures such as motivation and persistence;
capture students' thought processes;
share with students the basis upon which they are judged, and thus align expectations and performance with assessment; and
display a chronological development of student progress.
Portfolios are an interesting concept in university education. For example, this department uses the portfolio method to pass on the candidacy of Ph. D. students. See my web site on portfolios.
If you are a student reading this, then you are probably a student in one of my classes. Whether you are a major or not, I expect that you are able to program at a level commensurate with your educational level. While there is a lot to computer science that is not directly related to programming, it is unlikely that I will be teaching such a course. This view holds for theory courses as well as in more application oriented courses.
I expect, therefore, that you can both (1) solve a program by computational means and (2) explain to me exactly how you did it. This second principle means some form of written document, either as a test or a handed-in laboratory style report.
The vast majority of your grade will be determined by meeting development milestones and your written reports.