Assessing your students
There are a variety of methods and tools for assessing your students. Assessments can either be graded or intended for the purpose of getting feedback from your students about what they have learned and where questions still remain after your lesson. The following assessment methods will give you some ideas to ensure that you and your students get the most out of the course.
Formal Assessments – Graded Work
Check with your specific department for requirements in terms of what types and how many graded assessments you must have each semester. These can come in a variety of forms: quizzes, tests, papers, presentations, group projects, lab reports, creative expression, or even graded homework or journaling. To avoid grade complaints, make sure you are clear with your students about how you are going to grade their work. Rubrics are helpful for stating your grading practices. A good rule of thumb for grading is the more effort you put into creating an assessment (writing multiple choice questions, drafting lengthy rubrics, etc.), the less time you will spend grading it.
Rubrics: These can be extremely useful when grading written work that does not have a right or wrong answer. They are also helpful when grading presentations and group projects. Your rubrics should be written in a way so that your students understand exactly what it requires to receive a certain grade. Some useful links about rubrics:
- Sample Rubrics for grading written work from Auburn University
- Sample Rubrics for other work from Kansas State University
- Sample Rubrics from California State University
Giving Feedback: It is important that you respond to student work in a timely manner. Know ahead of time when you will be busy and plan to assign a graded assessment at another time so that you can grade it efficiently. On written work in particular, try to give your students concrete feedback about what exactly they need to improve upon for the next assignment. Don’t forget to point out what they’ve done well! Using an online annotating tool can be helpful: Canvas has a built-in grading tool like this or you can use the “Comment” feature in Microsoft Word to make comments electronically. Some useful links about giving feedback:
- Feedback tips from UC Santa Cruz
- Feedback on student writing from Stanford University
- An article about giving feedback from Faculty Focus
There are so many ways in which to check in with your students to gauge what they have learned and what they still need to learn from your course. In his presentation about Active Learning, Emad Mansour from the Biggio Center, explains some of these informal assessment techniques.
- The Muddiest Point: At the end of class, students anonymously jot down on a piece of paper what is still confusing to them after the day’s lesson. This gives you a chance to evaluate what didn’t quite work that day and allows you to reiterate and reteach those points to your students during the next class meeting
- One Minute Paper: This is similar to the muddiest point, but for this, students write down both what they understood and thought was the most important point of the lesson and what they still find confusing or unclear.
- Pre-Lesson Quiz: By giving a quiz before the lesson even begins, you can get a sense of what your students already know. Sometimes, they have more of a foundational knowledge base than you anticipated, so you can jump right into a more advanced lesson. Of course, the alternative to this is also possible.
- Surveys: You can give your students written or online surveys to assess them at any point in the semester. These can be as complex or simple as you want, depending on what you desire to understand about your students’ learning thus far in the course.
Assessing your teaching
The Biggio Center and Auburn University provide a number of tools for assessing your teaching.
- At the end of each semester, your students will complete an online evaluation of your course and teaching. You will have access to in depth results of these evaluations once grades have been submitted for the semester.
- Dr. James Groccia, Director of the Biggio Center, provides insight about these student evaluations in Understanding and Using Student Evaluations to Improve Your Teaching.
- The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment provides useful information about university-wide assessments.
Biggio Center Services
Peer Review of Teaching
- It is extremely beneficial to instructors when they can review each other’s teaching methods. Each department on campus varies in terms of what is required and what is offered in regards to peer review of teaching. We encourage you to ask your department about this: some departments require annual teaching observations.
- If your department does not currently practice peer review of teaching, the Biggio Center team can help you and your department set up a plan that will work for you. For more information about this service, please see our Peer Review of Teaching page.