Recommendation 6.3 Assessment and feedback: Frequency and variety

Course Success Self Review

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Provide frequent opportunities for students to demonstrate their understanding in a variety of ways.

Success Factor 6.3: Assessment and feedback: Frequency and variety

The strategies you can use for students to demonstrate their learning vary along many dimensions (e.g., the purpose of the assessment; low-stakes quizzing, or high-stakes exams; the level of sequencing and scaffolding of assignments, in which a larger assignment is broken up into component pieces). Review strategies for enhancing the variety and frequency of assessments in order to give you and your students targeted and reliable insight into how they are learning.

Methods for assessment, grading, and feedback are planned and clearly outlined for students. Assessment methods should be carefully considered in terms of equity, transparency, rigor, and integrity, and may challenge conventional approaches to quizzes and exams.

Background Information

What is this?

Frequent and varied assessments mean adding alternatives to high-stakes assessments into a course: frequent, low-stakes assessments and alternative assessments can scaffold or replace some high-stakes assessments.

Why is this important?

Providing regular and varied opportunities to evaluate student learning throughout the semester can help you and your students gauge the pace and quality of their learning. Regular and varied knowledge checks can also help keep students engaged, ease stress, and make it easier to identify where support is needed.

Where is this?

Assessments can be built in Canvas using the normal tools (Quizzes, Assignments, Discussions), or outside of Canvas. Canvas Assignments are flexible, allowing other forms of submitted work to be graded through the Canvas Gradebook.

How to Put Into Practice

The benefits of giving students frequent and varied opportunities to demonstrate their learning are manyfold. This approach supports student engagement because students are rewarded by studying and keeping up with course activities on a regular basis. Knowledge-checks designed to give students insight into their level of understanding can help them alter their study habits and help you target your instruction ahead of higher-stakes assessments. Assignments that incorporate student choice, student interests, and connections to the real world deepen their engagement with the material and skills they are learning. All these practices discourage cheating and enhance students’ capacity and motivation to bring intentional, rigorous attention to their own work.

Varieties of Assessment 

Review some varieties of assessments to help you select the strategies best suited to a course. The two concepts to focus on overall are to (1) vary the purpose of the assessment (what you want to get out of having students demonstrate their learning); and (2) vary the form of the assessment (what students actually do), all in alignment with the learning outcomes of the course.

A common framework for describing assessment is to break down assessments into three different purposes: diagnostic, formative, and summative.

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Diagnostic Assessment

Diagnostic assessments are intended to provide you and your students with an understanding of where they are right now in their knowledge and skills. They are usually ungraded and have a feedback component.

Writing/response prompts

Using the Canvas Groups tool, ask your learners to respond in writing or alternative formats to a case study, example, or sample scenario, even before you cover the content or practice together. Collect and review their responses to gauge where the class is, as whole, to determine where the knowledge is already strong, and where, instead, you need to focus your instruction. Avoid grading these responses, unless as part of a larger “participation” grade element.

Informal reading assessments

Ask students to read a brief sample (250-750 words, typically) of professional writing in your field, and then take a quick (10 or fewer items) ungraded reading quiz about the primary lessons or takeaways from the reading. Use the results to identify topics for further discussion.

Pre-tests

If you plan to have your students take graded unit tests or quizzes regularly, give them a small, ungraded sample of the same assessments before they begin. Use the Canvas Quiz Question Bank tool and create a quiz with a small number of questions about the unit’s learning outcomes, or share a list of questions similar to, but not identical, to the questions students will encounter on the graded test or quiz. Use their performance on the pre-test to focus their questions and study habits for each unit, and prior to the graded tests.

Surveys

Use the Canvas Survey tool or a Google form to create brief check-ins with your students. The shorter, the better, as a survey with just two questions, can provide actionable information about your students and their learning. Here are a couple of sample questions:

  1. Respond honestly: how much of the reading are you doing? [100%, 80%, 50%, 10%, none]
  2. What is one thing that is getting in the way of you being able to give your best effort to the course right now?

Journaling

Ask students to create a Google Doc for themselves and share it with you. Provide them with a prompt, or just ask them to keep a regular track of their experience shifting to, and being part of, your course. Read selectively, especially if you have a large-enrollment course, and use what you discover to adapt and update your course interactions as you go along.

Formative Assessment

Formative assessments are those that measure your students’ progress – beyond their starting point, but before their final understanding and skill level. These can be graded or not, and usually, entail a significant feedback component.

Online discussions

Discussions offer a way for students to share their learning while discovering what other students are learning. You can use discussions to assess student engagement with the course, or as a way to promote critical thinking. You can create a graded discussion in Canvas or manually grade a discussion in Piazza.

Presentations

Students can create and record presentations with PowerPoint, or in a Blackboard Collaborate studio that you set up ahead of time, for later viewing. Student presentations can also be conducted live with other students participating via these web conferencing options. As with any synchronous activities, bandwidth use and limitations should be taken into consideration, as some students may not have reliable access to robust internet.

Critical writing assignments

Depending on the length and format of a writing assignment, you can use Canvas Discussion Forums or Quizzes to assess student learning. You can also use the chat function in web conferences as a way for students to respond to short writing assignments. For more formal papers, creating an assignment and grading it using the Canvas SpeedGrader is a recommended way to assess the work and provide feedback.

Peer review

Canvas offers the option to make any assignment into a peer review activity. Peer review gives students the opportunity to assess their classmates’ work, as well as gain new perspectives on how their classmate's approach and solve problems.

Quizzes

Create regular low-stakes quizzes on content – like reading or content-check quizzes – to help keep students on track and set a baseline for assessing learning. Both short or long-answer questions can be graded in Canvas. Learn more about pedagogical uses of quizzing.

Summative Assessment

Summative assessments measure students’ cumulative understanding and skills in relation to the course learning outcomes. Traditionally, these are evaluative activities designed as course projects, capstone activities, single or group demonstrations, papers, and mid-term and final examinations. These summative assessments provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate higher-order and comprehensive learning. Summative assessments are almost always graded, and feedback often focuses on what to do differently in the future.

Group projects or presentations

Although it may look and feel a bit different, group projects and presentations can still be conducted remotely. Canvas has an easy way to create groups, which can facilitate students submitting group assignments. Students can create and record presentations with PowerPoint or in a Blackboard Collaborate studio on their own time, and submit them for you and/or their peers to review. Student presentations can also be conducted live with other students participating via these web conferencing options. As with any synchronous activities, bandwidth use and limitations should be taken into consideration, as some students may not have reliable access to robust internet.

Papers

Depending on the length and format of a writing assignment, you can use Canvas Discussion Forums or Quizzes to assess student learning.  You can also use the chat function in web conferences as a way for students to respond to short writing assignments. For more formal papers, creating an assignment and grading it using the Canvas SpeedGrader is a recommended way to assess the work and provide feedback.

Mid-term and final exams

During extended remote instruction, consider breaking up your traditional exams and major projects into smaller pieces. Both short or long-answer questions can be graded in Canvas. You can also:

See Also:




Keywords:assessment, feedback, frequency, variety, diagnostic, formative, summative   Doc ID:121324
Owner:Timmo D.Group:Center for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
Created:2022-09-14 12:30 CDTUpdated:2022-09-22 13:17 CDT
Sites:Center for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
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