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Checking Students’ Learning

Checking Students’ Learning

2 June, 2016

Formally, student learning is gauged through assessments such as exams, midterms, quizzes, and term papers.

In smaller classes, it may be easier to assess student understanding. It is easier to read students’ faces and ask them questions directly and students may feel more comfortable asking questions as you go along. It is also possible to check student learning fairly quickly in larger classes.

There are several quick and easy Classroom Assessment Techniques or “CATs” (Angelo & Cross, 1993) designed for multiple purposes. Checking for background knowledge on a subject or measuring student learning of course materials covered are among them.

An example of a quick and easy CAT is giving students three minutes at the end of a class to write the most significant point(s) of the lecture on index cards in order to gauge comprehension.

  • Even with 100 or more students, you can quickly skim through the responses to get an idea of what students have taken away from that lecture.
  • With significantly more than 100 students, pick a random sampling of returned index cards to get an idea.
  • Once you gather and review this data, you have the chance to address any misconceptions and/or give feedback on student learning in the beginning of the next lecture.

Another possibility is to integrate classroom response technologies (or i>clickers). With this technology:

  • Students can answer to any number of questions you pose.
  • Responses are tallied for immediate results.
  • You are able to gather and provide instant feedback on student learning.

Responding to individual student needs

1.      Becoming aware of individual student needs

The most recognizable way to keep track of individual student progress is through mid-term tests and other graded assignments. Blackboard’s Gradebook tool allows you to highlight students whose grades are above or below a certain point, letting you scan student progress quickly. Having this information is helpful at mid-semester so you can take action and contact students or help plan informal study groups.

Including a statement describing your policy on accommodating students with disabilities in your syllabus communicates an openness to individual needs and may motivate those who are eligible for accommodations to come forward early in the semester. For students who request accommodations but do not have documentation, direct them to Student Disability Services on campus to arrange for testing.

2.      Attending to individual student needs

  • Inform students about student services where they can access tutorials and study skills counseling.
  • For a group of students who are having difficulties with course content, offer additional tutoring sessions. You, your TAs, or volunteer students who have already taken the course and have done very well can deliver these.
  • Include an online discussion board so students can post questions about course content. Other students and TAs can help in answering these questions.

Large enrollment classes are often composed of students with a range of learning styles and preferences, motivations, abilities, and experiences with learning. Design and deliver your class to reach out to as many students as possible by incorporating principles of universal design for learning (UDL).