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Are Your Students Learning?

As instructors we are constantly wondering if our students are learning. To find this out we can use a variety of classroom assessment strategies.

The most effective classroom assessment strategies fit into the following framework:

Assessment Cycle

  1. Gathering information about student learning
  2. Analyzing that information¹
    • Identifying strengths and weaknesses
    • Identifying misconceptions
    • Identifying patterns of successes and failures
    • Identifying changes over time
  3. Acting on that information
    • Communicate² with students —in class, on Blackboard, via e-mail, etc.— about what you’ve learned from assessing them.
    • If you discover your students haven’t learned a key course concept, you might then spend more time on it
    • Assign students a grade on a paper, an exam, or for the course as a whole
    • Redesign course

Resources & Notes

¹Quality assessment practices do require planning and effort. There is a startup cost, and the first time you do this it will seem very difficult. However, the payoff in student understanding and ability to teach what is most necessary will become more and more aparent as time goes on. To get started try implementing just one idea or strategy from these pages.

²This is one of the most important aspects of assessment. Without open communication with students, they will see little value in taking the time for assessments of any kind.