The objective of evaluating what is being learned is to assure that every child learns well in ways that suit them best and that the learning experiences, accomplishments and knowledge of each child steadily improve. The I DeSiGN model helps students recognize needs and goals, establish information, consider possibilities, explain things, produce something, judge their success, and learn from their experience. It encourages students to recognize when they are doing these things and to evaluate how well they do them while they are learning subject material and acquiring practical knowledge. This evaluation helps determine what and how well each student is learning. It can help students, parents and teachers alike understand how the student thinks while providing a common framework for communicating about the learning experience.

Educators have long been aware that traditional question based tests do not measure what is actually learned, especially by young children. Worksheets and portfolios that capture what students do are increasingly used to collect evidence from a learning experience, but these require subjective interpretation by the teacher of how the child is progressing. They are not very good at indicating what the student has actually learned.

With I DeSiGN, learning can be assessed by monitoring thinking as it occurs rather than through testing or interpretation after the fact. This approach encourages continuous assessment and reinforcement that is related to the student's activities during each learning experience rather than periodic assessment through potentially arbitrary test questions that may be unrelated to what the student is actually doing. In I DeSiGN recalling relevant knowledge when it is useful is emphasized over simply recalling knowledge for its own sake.

Through the seven modes of thinking identified by the I DeSiGN model, students learn to continuously evaluate their own activities and to place the knowledge they gain from each experience in perspective. Because they are seeking to achieve goals that they themselves establish or recognize they are better able to understand when they do well or poorly. They are also empowered to improve what they do by applying the different perspectives that each mode of thought provides.

The seven ways of thinking also offer a way to structure the assessment of learning that provides parents and teachers with appropriate entry points through which to support their children or students. Through the modes of thought, parents, teachers and students have a common language with which to discuss, measure and support the student's learning experience.

Using the I DeSiGN model every student learns two ways of thinking that specifically involve assessment - Goalgetting (Evaluative Thinking) and KNowing (Reflective Thinking). Evaluative Thinking teaches the student how to judge the success of what they are trying to do and Reflective Thinking helps them understand why it is important, useful or worthwhile. The other modes of thinking help them to structure and understand what they accomplish in terms of commitments, language, ideas, explanations, and actions.

Talking with students about their use of different modes of thought during learning experiences can help them become more thoughtful and critically aware of what they are doing. Questions should focus on and be guided by and the modes of thinking. For example:

Intending(Intentional Thinking): Why are you doing that?
Defining(Referential Thinking): How would you describe that?
Exploring(Relational Thinking) Why is that a good idea?
Suggesting(Formative Thinking): Can you explain that to me?
Innovating(Procedural Thinking: Tell me how you do that?
Goalgetting(Evaluative Thinking): How do you know that?
Knowing(Reflective Thinking): What do you remember?

Because I DeSiGN is a general model of thinking, evaluations based on the thinking modes it identifies are applicable, consistent and comparable for large and small-scale assessment, at all age levels, over all subjects, media and activities. Children, parents and teachers do not confront a new framework for evaluating each experience every time there is a new project, course or curriculum. Instead, they develop a better capacity for assessment and self-assessment that will be valuable throughout their lives.

A project is typically the focus of a learning experiences using the I DeSiGN model, and Goalgetting is the part of each experience where the student evaluates what they have achieved. This aspect of their experience can be implemented and supported in many ways, using computers or otherwise. If paper documents such as the I DeSiGN worksheet are used they can contain a form for rating each way of thinking. In computer supported activities, information about how the student responds to different dimensions of the learning experience can be compiled as it is entered, recorded or presented back to the student as questions for their consideration and response. For example, when a student selects something the computer might generate an appropriate response such as "What you selected is heavy. Will you be able to pick it up?" or "Can you find a faster way to do that, because what you have chosen to do will take a long time." All such feedback should help the student become more successful by being more objective about what they do in reaching their goals.

It is useful for the teacher, parent and child to use a simple rating tool based on the I DeSiGN model to evaluate a learning experience.  Download "Overall Evaluate Tool"

The format of this evaluation tool is easy to use and provides a good basis for discusion between the teacher, student and parent. Experience with it has suggested that, rather than use it with very young children, it is better for teachers to prompt them to reflect on their own experience by asking probing questions such as those noted earlier, to help them properly focus their feelings, and to help them be objective and accurate when expressing an opinion. Since most children are just learning how to use critical judgment to gain their objectives these practices offer a very important learning experience.

Once children are old enough to have learned to be critically objective about how they use the I DeSiGN model to guide their thoughts, they can more easily use it to assess their activities and discuss their progress with teacher or parent, especially if there is a difference between the teacher's rating and their own. Because every activity can be quickly rated using this scheme, parents can easily determine how their children are doing across all dimensions of the model. Using this information they can confer in a clearly focused way with the teacher or help their children in a particular area if additional effort there is indicated. Such a profile is a better indication of what a child is able to accomplish in a given subject area or activity than the recitation of facts.

Portfolios which document the student's use of the I DeSiGN model are organized in such a way that they also pinpoint strengths and deficiencies. The Intending Section of the model in which the student declares what they are trying to achieve, the Suggesting Section in which they explain what they propose and the Goalgetting Section where they assess their success are particularly important to understanding their learning experience.