Learning & Teaching Topics
Formative Classroom Assessment:
A learner-centered way to informally assess how students are learning throughout the semester in order to improve the quality of student learning.
Formative assessments are quick, relatively easy, and provide an excellent way to “check in” and receive feedback on learning effectiveness without the stress (for students or teachers) of formal exams and projects. Formative assessments can be used at any time, intermingled with more formal feedback styles such as traditional summative and graded assessments. Formative assessments can include everything from short hand-written papers to electronic “clicker” instant feedback in large lecture courses.
Examples of Formative Classroom Assessment Techniques:
Minute Paper Take one to three minutes at the end of class to ask students to write down the most important point from class that day as well as any unanswered questions they may have. This can help instructors assess what students are learning and which points need clarification in future class sessions.
Muddiest Point Give students two to three minutes to write about what they felt was the “muddiest point” of that day’s lecture. This technique can be used at the middle or end of a topic that might be confusing to students. Instructors can then use this information to provide clarification when necessary.
Background Knowledge Probe: This is a helpful technique that can be used at the beginning of a course or unit in order to determine how much students already know and to determine the starting level of the particular group of students. This probe can take the form of multiple choice questions and/or short answer questions on the topic. After the results are tabulated, instructors can review the results with the class and provide additional resources.
Misperception/Perception Check: This technique is particularly helpful when dealing with controversial or sensitive issues. A short answer or multiple choice assessment that will help instructors assess how well students distinguish between fact and opinion and, after tabulating the results, can discuss these issues with the class.
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Yorke, M. (2003). Formative assessment in higher education: Moves towards theory and the enhancement of pedagogic practice. Higher Education, 45(4), 477-501.