Custom Assessment

The Custom Assessment activity can be customized and used by Session Leaders to quickly and effectively poll Thinkers and assess ballot items on multiple criteria.


  • Custom Assessment Activity Window displays all ballot items and then displays the results after the vote has been cast.
  • Comments  icon in the upper right Activity toolbar enables Thinkers to view or add comments to a ballot item. For details on additional toolbar functionality, see Activity Toolbar.
  • Ballot Items Column lists all ballot items. Double-click on any ballot item to edit the text.
  • Ballot Item entry box,the text entry box at the bottom of the Ballot Items column, enables you (and Thinkers, if granted permission) to add new items to the ballot.
  • Add Column (plus sign icon located on the upper right) enables you to create new criteria columns.
  • Abstain lets Thinkers abstain from the entire vote. You can prevent Thinkers from having the option to abstain on the entire vote, individual ballot items, and/or vote criteria by adjusting the activity's display settings. For more information, see Custom Assessment Settings.
  • Reset Results allows Leaders and Co-Leaders to reset all ballots that have been cast, while preserving all of the ballot items and criteria columns. All previous Thinker voting selections are still retained after a Leader or Co-Leader resets the vote results.
  • Vote (large green button located at the bottom right) enables Thinkers to cast their ballots, and saves the Thinker's current ranking of ballots to the results.

Note: For information on viewing and interpreting vote results, see Custom Assessment Results.

Ballot items are displayed in the first column on the left. You can grant Thinkers permissions to allow them to add, edit, reorder, organize, and/or delete ballot items and comments. For more information, see Custom Assessment Settings.

Adding Ballot Items

For more information on copying and pasting ballot items from other ThinkTank activities or from external sources, see Moving Data. It is common for Leaders to copy items from a Crowdsource activity and paste them into an Assessment activity so Thinkers can vote on existing contributions or ideas.

To enter a new ballot item:

  1. At the bottom of the list, type the new ballot item in the bottom white entry box shown below. Otherwise, highlight the appropriate ballot item in the list under which the new item will be placed.

  1. After entering the new ballot item, click Enter/Return. The new ballot item displays at the bottom of the list or directly after your selected ballot item.


Green Dots

Green Dots indicate that all Thinkers can vote on the item. Gray dots indicate that all Thinkers can see the item but cannot vote on the item. Gray dots can be used when you only want to vote on the parent item and not the sub-items. Alternatively, gray dots can be used when you only want to vote on the sub-items, but not the parent item.

You can also click on the gray dot (turning it green) in the bottom text entry area to allow Thinkers to enter new ballot items.

Removing Ballot Items

You can remove ballot items with the right-click menu or the Activity toolbar.

  1. Select one or more ballot items. The selected items turns blue.
  2. Click the Delete  icon in the Activity toolbar.

Note: Additional standard text editing and specialized activity-specific functionality is also available in Assessment activities. For more information, see Editing Text and Activity Toolbar.

Thinkers can add comments to any of the ballot items in a Custom Assessment activity. The number of comments associated with a ballot item displays at its right. Comments can be viewed or added from either the Ballot view or the Results view.

To view and add comments to a ballot item:

  1. Highlight a ballot item in the list.
  2. Click on the Comments icon in the Activity toolbar. The Comments dialog box opens, where you can view or add new comments.

  1. Type a comment in the bottom entry box, and then click the Enter key to add the comment. Comments can be copied, pasted, indented, and deleted like other text in ThinkTank activities.
  2. When finished, click on the X on the upper right.

You can add new criteria columns to an Assessment activity. Once a column type has been selected, the column type cannot be changed. If you need to change a column type, create a new column with the correct type, and delete the unwanted column.

To add a new column:

  1. Click on the Add Column  icon. The New Column dialog box opens with Basic (shown below) and Advanced options for the new column.

  1. Type the Name of the new column.
  2. Enter the Description. The description enables you to add more information to the column, such as voting instructions for Thinkers.
  3. Select the column Type. This drop-down menu allows you to set the voting type for the column. Depending on the column type, the remaining fields will vary. For example, if you select a Point Range column type, you must then enter the minimum and maximum values.
  4. Click on Create to add the new column.


Advanced Settings

In the New Column dialog box, scroll down to view the Advanced Settings.

  1. Allocatable sets a total value of points that Thinkers can give or allocate across the column. This works best with Numeric, Checkmark, or Yes/No in which the vote is equal to one allocation.
  2. Must use entire allocation, if enabled, means that a Thinker’s ballot cannot be submitted until the entire assigned allocation has been used across the column.
  3. Create saves any changes you have made and adds the new column to the ballot.
  4. Cancel closes the Edit Column window without saving any changes that were made.

When you add new criteria columns, you can select from the following column types:

  1. Blank provides a column with a title and description but no voting information.
  2. Yes/No allows Thinkers to vote yes if something is true or no (default selection) if something is false. Yes has a point value of 1, and No has a point value of 0.
  3. Checkbox allows Thinkers to click on check boxes in the column. Type in the Column Description to help Thinkers know how to distribute their check marks. A check has a point value of 1, and an empty box has a point value of 0.
  4. Low/Medium/High provides Thinkers with three options from which to choose: Low, Medium or High. Low has a point value of 1, Medium has a point value of 2, and High has a point value of 3.
  5. Numeric allows Thinkers to type in a number value from a predefined range. It is useful to indicate the range in the description. The numbers used are the point values displayed in the results.
    • Click on the Edit Column  gear wheel, located at the upper right of the column title, to set the minimum and maximum values.
    • Precision indicates the number of decimal places that are allowed in each Thinker's entered value.
    • Increment indicates how much the value increases/decreases if Show Arrows is enabled. If Thinkers click on one of these arrows, the value increases or decreases by this set (increment) amount.
    • Show Arrows check box, when enabled, displays arrows on both sides of the entry field. Thinkers can click on these arrows to decrease or increase the value in the field.

Note: If a field turns red after a Thinker enters a value, the entry is invalid and must be adjusted. Generally, if this occurs, the Thinker entered a value outside the minimum or maximum range.

  1. Point Range displays a range of numbers, and Thinkers make selections by clicking on a number. Numbers in this column type represent point values displayed in the results.
    • When selecting this type of column, you must set the minimum and maximum numbers in the range. The default values are 1 to 5.
    • To change the minimum or maximum value, open the Edit Column window by clicking on the gears for that column.
  1. Agreement displays five levels of agreement from which to choose: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neutral, Agree, and Strongly Agree. The point values are Strongly Disagree 1, Disagree 2, Neutral 3, Agree 4, and Strongly Agree 5.
  2. Slider provides a sliding scale with a point value. Thinkers move the slider to their desired value. The numbers used in the column are the point values displayed in the results.
    • When selecting this type of column, you can set the Minimum, the lowest number used, and the Maximum, the highest number used in the range. The default values are 1 to 10.
    • To change the Minimum and Maximum open the Edit Column window by clicking on the gear wheel  for that column.

For all criteria columns, ask Thinkers to make a selection, enter a rating, provide a score, etc. If a field turns red after a Thinker enters a value, the entry is invalid and must be modified to fit the minimum/maximum value.

  • To cast a vote, click on the large green Vote button on the lower right of the ballot:

  • If possible, set up the activity before the Session begins so that you only need to copy/paste ballot items while running the Session. This keeps Thinkers engaged rather than waiting around while the activity is set up.
  • When determining the number of ballot items and criteria, consider that every decision on any single criteria of one ballot item takes 30 seconds, on average.
  • The number of ballot items multiplied by the number of criteria equals the number of individual decisions a Thinker must make during the activity. Keep ballot items and criteria as low as possible to engage Thinkers in detailed assessment of each item. Consider using multiple Custom Assessment activities if there are too many items or criteria for one activity.
  • When asking Thinkers to vote, use these words: “We are not making a final decision right now. We just want to get a sense of the group, so we can focus our subsequent efforts where it will be most useful.” This reduces the pressure, and Thinkers can focus on an honest evaluation.
  • When asking Thinkers to present arguments for outlier votes, use these exact words: “Without telling me how you voted, what reasons might exist for someone to give [the item] [a high rating] and what reasons might exist to give [the item] [a low rating]?”
  • If possible, when selecting column types (Low/Medium/High, Point Range, Yes/No, etc.) try to maintain the same type across all criteria. This provides a significantly increased ability to meaningfully compare and contrast the results across the activity.
  • Deactivate “Allow Thinkers to change the view/see results” in the activity settings, and wait for the majority of ballots to be cast (see the vote indicator at the bottom right) before using the Magnet to bring Thinkers to the results view. This keeps early results from influencing Thinkers who have not yet cast their ballots.
  • Leaders should avoid making changes to ballot items, columns, criteria, etc. after voting has commenced. The red ‘Your ballot is invalid’ message may appear near the lower right Vote button if the Leader adds another ballot item or changes a column setting in some manner after Thinkers start to cast votes. If Leaders must change criteria, columns, ballot items, etc. in the middle of a vote, participants should be notified immediately to avoid confusion.
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