Before, During and After Instruction

Aligning Assessment with Learning Outcomes
Patte, J. (2008)
This is a youTube presentation, with examples.

Research Based Strategies for Providing Feedback
Johnny Can spell & Johnny Can Write Instructional Strategies and Activities. Based on Marzano, R.J., Pickering, D. & Pollock, J.E.
This report provides summaries of key research findings on providing feedback.

Effective Faculty Feedback: The Road Less Traveled
Stern, L.A. & Solomon, A. (2006). Assessing Writing,Vol. 11, No. 1, p. 22-41
This article analyzes faculty comments on assignments, and tips for effective grading practices.

Reflective Teaching Practice, Student Outcomes, and Institutional Effectiveness
Spoehr, K.T. Brown University (January, 2008).The Teaching Exchange, Vol. 12, No. 2.
This article asserts that the principles underlying reflective teaching answer many of the criticisms leveled at American higher education.

Assessment Primer
Brissenden, G., Astronomy, University of Chicago & Slater, T., Physics, Montana State University-Bozeman
The question, “Are you asking too little of your class?,” sets the stage for this site.

Formative Assessment: What Do Teachers Need to Know and Do?
Heritage, M. UCLA (October, 2007), Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 89, No. 2.
This article addresses K-12 teaching, but is helpful for university faculty.


Purpose of assessment
Once a course has been planned and instruction undertaken, there must be an accurate means of determining what has been learned by students. Choosing a means of assessing to what extent learning has occurred is as important as the planning and instruction.  This opportunity to measure what a student knows or is able to do offers feedback both to the student about the degree of their understanding, and to the instructor about their teaching efficacy.

Before beginning a new topic it is "best practice" to probe students to determine their background knowledge. This process of pre-assessment can be as simple as raising hands, responding with clicker technology or writing a one minute response. The insights gained from these techniques are then used to guide a lesson, redirect an activity or serve as a jumping off point to discuss new information. Accomplished faculty members pre-assess students to improve their teaching and enhance student learning.

Formative assessment
Formative assessment occurs as part of the instructional process, and provides information needed to adjust teaching and learning as they are happening.  It therefore informs both students and instructors about student understanding at a point when timely adjustments can be made.  Doing so helps students achieve learning outcomes more effectively.  One way to think about formative assessment is as practice, without holding students fully accountable for skills and concepts that have just been introduced.  Formative assessments come in many forms but would include homework problems, small quizzes, drafts of papers with responses, and even “clicker” feedback during a lecture to measure student understanding among others. What instructors do with the knowledge they gain from formative assessments determines whether it is effective for improving student learning.

Summative assessment
Summative assessments are given at intervals to determine what students know and do not know.  This form of assessment is the traditional test at the end of a unit, a final term paper, or final exams.  The larger standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT, MCAT and LSAT would fit in this category of assessments as well. These are spread out and occur after instruction as a final measure of learning for a particular topic in a course.  This type of assessment occurs too far down the learning path to provide feedback for a particular learner, although they do serve as an important measure for faculty to determine how to more effectively teach a topic.

Choosing an assessment
The decision about how to assess is made based on a number of considerations.  Think about what assessment will offer a genuine reflection of what students have learned.  Ask if the assessment models real world use of the knowledge and skills being taught.  Determine what limitations exist for evaluating the assessment.  Finally look for alignment between the assessment and the student learning outcomes articulated for the course.

Evaluating results and providing feedback
Whatever assessment is selected, once it has been administered, it will have to be evaluated for accuracy and quality.  Think about the sort of feedback you would like to provide to students.  Ask about what sorts of feedback will help them learn.  The size of the class may limit the means of evaluation to something that can be done quickly and effectively, since the most useful feedback for learning happens within a reasonable timeframe.

Reflection on results
Once the results are in it is helpful to use them to reflect on the effectiveness of your teaching. Use the results to consider changes you might make to the assignments, assessment or course instruction next time you teach the course.  Step back and assess the course as a whole to determine whether a different strategy may help students learn more effectively.  This process of teaching – reflection – revised teaching is the way to become an accomplished instructor.  There are systematic ways to go about this reflection process that we will explore.

Possible questions to ask about Assessment:

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