Checking for Understanding ~ Dozens of ideas and strategies

flickr photo by Thomas Hawk http://flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/176785431 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

What are the best ways to check for understanding? Below are two articles with strategies to keep your assessment checks fresh and engaging.

From informED:

“The ultimate goal of teaching is to do just that – teach, not stand up in the front of the room and talk. But sometimes it’s easier to talk than to teach, as we all know, especially when we need to cover a lot of material in a short amount of time. We hope students will understand, if not now then before test time, and we keep our fingers crossed that their results will indicate we’ve done our job.

The problem is, we rely on these tests to measure understanding, and then we move on. Few of us take the time to address weaknesses and misunderstandings after the tests have been graded, and by that time it’s too late for students to be interested. This means we need to rethink how we approach assessment during class.

The most effective way to test student understanding is to do it while the lesson’s still going on. Asking students to fill out a questionnaire and then correcting misunderstandings during the next class period won’t work because students have already moved on. You’ve got to take advantage of the moment. If you hope to spend the majority of your time getting through to students, and not just talking, then understanding must be measured and dealt with as soon as the first frown appears on a face.”  Read the entire piece here.

Over at Edutopia, Todd Finley has compiled a list of 53 ways to check for understanding. Check out the PDF here.

“What strategy can double student learning gains? According to 250 empirical studies, the answer is formative assessment, defined by Bill Younglove as “the frequent, interactive checking of student progress and understanding in order to identify learning needs and adjust teaching appropriately.”

Unlike summative assessment, which evaluates student learning according to a benchmark, formative assessment monitors student understanding so that kids are always aware of their academic strengths and learning gaps. Meanwhile, teachers can improve the effectiveness of their instruction, re-teaching if necessary. “When the cook tastes the soup,” writes Robert E. Stake, “that’s formative; when the guests taste the soup, that’s summative.” Formative assessment can be administered as an exam. But if the assessment is not a traditional quiz, it falls within the category of alternative assessment.”

Read the entire piece here.

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