How and when do you assess student learning?

Creating assessments that evaluate student learning in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the instructor challenges even the best teachers. Never fear, we’ve assembled great resources to help you think about student learning assessment in new ways.

Looking for some general tips and best practices.  Check out this helpful site: Best Practices in Assessment and Grading

Formative Assessment

Formative assessment provides feedback for instructors and learners so they can make changes that improve learning.  By conducting frequent and on-going assessment, you can make changes to your instruction and students can reflect on how to improve their learning. Formative assessment is diagnostic and can be done at the beginning of the class to get a baseline understanding of student knowledge and skills or at any point as you move through the semester to fine-tune your teaching. ‘

Using Formative Assessment to Evaluate Student Participation

Examples of Formative Classroom Assessment


Rubrics provide structure and information that both students and faculty value.  For students, rubrics take the guesswork out of how faculty evaluate their work. For faculty, rubrics provide an easy to follow, objective way of measuring levels of student achievement. Using a rubric speeds up grading, reduces student questions, provides useful feedback, and can prevent implicit bias. You can even create rubrics right in blackboard for easy grading. Rubrics are an essential tool if your courses uses TAs or graders.

Introduction to Rubrics

Annenberg Learner Rubric Tool

Using Rubrics

Quick Link to Rubrics

Tests and Quizzes

Many of us were educated on a model of testing that involved one or two tests each semester.  Typically, students took a midterm and a final, with an occasional third exam thrown in for good measure. Research shows that using tests that are more frequently given, rather than once or twice a semester can enhance student learning. No matter how often you give them, it’s important to create test questions that truly test student’s level of learning.  These resources will guide you through some best practices for creating strong questions that demonstrate learning without testing your patience.

Designing Test Questions

A Short Guide to Writing Effective Test Questions

Learn to Create a Rubric in Blackboard

Increasing metacognition with Test Wrappers

While we’d like to think of assessments as a learning opportunity for students, most get their grade and forget it.  Test and assignment wrappers encourage students to think about how they prepared, where they struggled, and how they can improve on the next exam or assignment.

Learn more about metacognition and wrappers

Examples of Test Wrappers in Sciences

Multiple Choice

With large classes or frequent testing, multiple choice tests significantly simplify grading.  The good news is, when written well, they can also test students on higher levels of learning.  Here are some helpful resources for writing multiple choice questions:

14 Rules for Writing Multiple Choice Questions

Writing Multiple Choice Questions that Demand Critical Thinking

Two Stage Exams

Do you want to keep the learning going after the exam?  Consider using Two Stage Exams in your classroom. A recent study  shows higher retention of course material when students have collaborative group tests immediately after the individual test.

Keep the Learning Going by Using Two Stage Exams

Watch a video on the Two Stage Exam process.

Reflection and the One-Minute Paper

One-minute papers are often used at the beginning and end of class to help students either demonstrate their understanding of the homework or reflect on the main points of that day’s lesson.  Two simple questions to ask are: “What was the most important thing you learned (during today’s class or in your reading, as applicable)?” and “What questions do you still have?” This information can help you test student’s engagement while giving you important insight into what you need to cover more deeply.  No time in class? Assign it as a two-question quiz in blackboard to be completed by the end of the day.

A Guide to Using One Minute Reflection Papers

The Minute Paper Sample

Student Presentations

Presentation skills are highly sought after in the workplace. They also add another tool for assessing student learning.  Whether you are assigning a 3 minute report or a 30 minute group presentation, we’ve got you covered. Click here to access our presentation resources.