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Ways to Assess Student Learning During Class

It’s important to have evidence of student learning during class as well as through assignments, and exams. These short student engagement activities will provide this evidence. Many take 5 minutes or less to complete.

Brainstorming Steps:

1. Present an open-ended question for students to discuss or solve.
2. Students can work individually, in pairs or small groups, or as a class (or combination of these).
3. Have students share ideas with class, making notes on the board.
4. Challenge their responses or have other students challenge the responses on the board.
5. At the end, correct any misconceptions, note opposing points of view, and summarize main points.

Value: promotes critical and creative thinking and imagination

Concept Map Steps:

1. Provide students with a list of terms relative to their course work (either from the previous class, last several classes or most recent lecture segment). Terms may be provided as a list or given out as a stack of cards.
2. Ask students to create a meaningful pattern with these terms (i.e. food web—how are different organisms linked, cardiovascular system blood flow, etc.). There may be one “right” answer or the concepts may promote creative exploration of the topic.
3. If time allows, ask one group to share concept map with the whole class. Or alternatively, ask groups to explain their pattern to another group in the class.

Value: promotes integration of ideas, provides immediate feedback about student understanding,

Decision Making Steps:

1. Provide students with problem that they need to work on for example ”Imagine you are the director of the antibiotic discovery unit in a major pharmaceutical company and you are asks for a five-year plan to develop new antibiotics. You are told that the plan will be funded only if you can convince your managers that you will be able to develop the five new drugs with entirely new modes of action. Can you do it? What is your plan and how will you defend it?”
2. Ask students to work in group (2-4 students) to develop a plan based on what they have learned in class.
3. Have students share ideas with class, making notes on the board.
4. Ask other students in the class to comment on each group’s proposal and suggest changes.

Value: promotes integration of ideas, critical, creative thinking, and provides immediate feedback about student understanding

For a full list of examples see Interactive Teaching and Learning Activities (PDF logo PDF file)

And for more ideas on quick ways to assess student learning during class see our Classroom Assesment Techniques (CATs) resources page.