Smart Ways to Assess Student Learning Outcomes

German artist Josef Albers says, “Good Teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.” Measuring student learning throughout the course is a key task for any teacher. The formal introduction of formative assessment tests in the curriculum of many boards was made for this purpose. Formative assessments, as the name suggests are the test of a student during his course as opposed to summative assessments or annual examinations which are taken after course completion. They include several techniques like quizzes, tests, case studies, and likewise that a teacher employs to ascertain the level of learning in his students while they are still learning a particular chapter. Now, achieving a great balance and designing just the perfect assessment test can feel a bit tenacious as teachers not only need to set an assessment test but also evaluate the performance of students and decide whether students need a different approach for that concept or they are ready to move on to next topic? Or, most likely, which student has grasped the concept and is ready to move on and which student requires more time or an alternate explanation?

It is important to note that while evaluating your students’ learning, you need to look at multiple data points because a single test or quiz, no matter how well organized, isn’t credible enough to be considered as a sole input for planning out your next step of instruction. Add to that the fact that same assessment tests are not suitable for measuring the quality of different learning tasks and it becomes all the more important to have an arsenal full of different assessment methods at your disposal to choose from, which are suitable to ascertain a student’s prowess at a particular learning task. We discuss below, some useful methods for evaluating student learning….

Classroom discussions-

Try to stir up informal discussions in the classroom so that the students get a chance to apply and process the information bestowed upon them rather than just passively listening to it and then forgetting most of it by the end of the day. Nowadays, since teachers are required to teach online, online group discussion should be encouraged as it creates curiosity in student’s minds and helps in improving student learning outcomes.

Exit Slips-

Exit slips are an innovative and informal way for teachers to ascertain how well students have learned the topic taught in that class. Basically, the teachers ask students to respond to a question at the end of class, and students are required to write and submit their answers on a slip. This technique can be easily applied to the online classrooms of today, thanks to some of the best app for online teaching that provides an interactive interface between educators and students.

Formative assessments-

Formative assessments include a wide array of methods to test the learning of students. The biggest benefit of assessment as an activity carried out in conjunction with learning rather than a post-learning activity is that the teacher gets a chance for course correction and the overall learning of the students can be improved while time is still by their side.

Concept Mapping-

We are well aware of how concept maps are a popular learning tool that provides profound, visual, and meaningful learning as opposed to rote memorization of concepts and superficial learning. But, did you know, that concept maps may also serve as a powerful, visual teaching aid for assessing student learning. Concept maps are used to present information in form of graphs and charts. It begins with a central idea or node which then extends into various branches in a top-down manner generally. It simply denotes how central ideas can be fragmented into a subsidiary or supporting ideas.

Journal entry-

Journal entries help in introspection and deep reflection about concepts that the students have learned. Students should be motivated to maintain a journal which the teacher can check up on regularly and provide valuable feedback. This helps as an effective way to assess exactly what the student assimilated from a class and provides invaluable input for the teacher in his planning for further instruction.

These are some of the many tools which will prove effective in helping you to assess the learning outcomes of students and make required adjustments and interventions in your teaching approach wherever necessary.

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