When everyone in the classroom, teacher and students, recognizes that they are responsible for creating a learning community together, learning is at its most meaningful and useful. –bell hooks In order to evaluate student learning and reflect on the effectiveness of my own teaching, I design and administer frequent assessments. Through integrated course design, I consider how I might help students achieve each of my learning objectives by incorporating formative assessments throughout the course. Low-stakes classroom assessment techniques such as think-pair-share and one minute papers guide my improvements in the ongoing teaching and learning process. In addition, I ensure that my summative assessments, such as larger projects, papers, or presentations, are directly aligned with the course learning outcomes. I evaluate student learning in a variety of ways to create an inclusive classroom for students with diverse learning styles. When assigning grades, I consider whether the assignments reflect individual progress and if they meet specific expectations and standards. Finally, I provide rubrics at the outset of each assignment in order to establish clear guidelines and communicate how students will be evaluated. Below are some examples of my assessment techniques.
Class Engagement Rubric In discussion-based classes, instructors rarely give explicit directions on how participation will be graded. In order to remedy this and make expectations clear early on, I have constructed a class engagement rubric. In this rubric, students are shown how they will be assessed not just on the frequency of their participation, but also on their listening skills, critical engagement with the course materials, and impact on the seminar. This rubric is provided to students on the first day of class so that it can serve as a reference point throughout the semester. I then use the guidelines for grading, while also asking students to submit a self-assessment both mid-semester and at the end of the course.
Discussion Questions Rubric Asking students to write discussion questions enhances their understanding of the course materials, improves long-term retention, and builds inquiry skills. This rubric evaluates the quality of daily discussion questions on their relevance and importance, critical engagement with the course materials, thought-provoking quality, and style. It is also used during a mini peer review workshop at the beginning of the semester to teach students how to write quality discussion questions.
News Article Presentation Rubric News article presentations make course materials more relevant to everyday life while giving students the chance to improve their oral communication skills in a low-stakes setting. This rubric provides tips on public speaking and criteria on which presentations will be evaluated. Students also use this rubric to assess each other's presentations.
Congressional Debate Prompt After reading a number of relevant articles, students create an outline and participate in a mock congressional debate on the Healthy Marriage Initiative, a federal marriage promotion policy. By asking teams to prepare for both sides of the issue, this assignment hones students' critical thinking and argumentation skills.
Newspaper Op-Ed Prompt This writing assignment asks students to engage with a popular controversial issue for a real world audience: their college newspaper. Students respond to one of three related questions in a persuasive op-ed, which they can choose to submit to the campus newspaper upon completion of final revisions.
Reading Response Rubric This assignment is designed to encourage deep learning and critical engagement with the weekly readings while providing multiple ways for students to demonstrate their knowledge (i.e. Universal Design for Learning). Students can choose from five different options as a means for reflecting on and responding to weekly reading assignments while also practicing evidence-based strategies for effective learning.
Research Proposal Prompt This research assignment invites students to further explore a course topic of their own choosing in the last part of the semester. The proposal is scaffolded into a number of steps, from brainstorming research questions to annotating a bibliography to drafting each section of the final paper. Peer Review Worksheet Peer review sessions can be an incredibly helpful way for students to learn from each other, but they can also be difficult to execute effectively. This worksheet gives detailed instructions on how students should evaluate their peers' writing during in-class review sessions.
Group Work Peer Evaluation Collaborative group projects are a great opportunity for students to work together and problem-solve. In order evaluate group work beyond the final submitted product, these peer evaluations for provide qualitative feedback on group functioning and individual contributions.