Assessment for learning, as opposed to assessment as learning, seeks information that can be used directly by teachers and learners to adjust teaching strategies. This kind of assessment can involve classroom dialogue, short answer questions, and essay-type tasks.
An unexpected answer to a question may alert a teacher to a misunderstanding, while puzzled looks on student’s faces may indicate the need for further clarification of instructions.
Multiple Choice Questions
Tests and exams are a common way for learners to demonstrate their understanding of course material. Several types of examination questions are available, including multiple-choice, true/false, and matching. Each question type has its advantages and disadvantages. In addition, students may need to take essay or oral tests.
Multiple choice questions consist of one question and several possible answers (distractors). Learners respond to these questions by circling the correct answer on a machine-readable response sheet. This type of question can be quickly marked and provides a good overview of student understanding. However, creating these questions can be time-consuming, and it is often difficult to generate enough plausible distractors.
Actual/false questions are similar to multiple-choice questions but only contain a single statement. Students must decide whether the information is true or false. These questions provide learners with a 50% chance of guessing the correct answer. It is recommended that you write two or three actual/wrong questions after each lecture during the term while the topic is still fresh in your mind. This will allow you to construct tests and exams quickly. These types of questions also allow you to assess students’ memory of solution techniques. You can even use them for summative assessments such as end-of-year or final exams.
Short Answer Questions
Assessment for learning (AFL) is the process of using assessment information to inform teaching decisions that directly help with student learning. Unlike traditional assessments that may be summative and used to attribute grades, AFL seeks to gather evidence about what students have learned and how they have learned it – much of this is likely to occur during daily classroom activities, e.g., an unexpected answer to a question may alert the teacher to a misunderstanding, or puzzled looks on students’ faces might indicate that a further explanation is required.
AFL aims to make a difference in learning – it is not about improving results; it is about moving students closer to the intended learning outcomes. AFL uses information gathered from a variety of sources, including teacher-generated data (checks for understanding, exit tickets, observations) and student work, to constantly adjust instructional strategy during lessons or units of learning.
One of the most effective ways to collect this sort of information is through short answer questions, which require learners to respond to a prompt with a single word or phrase. The main advantages of these questions are that they need students to think about their responses in more depth than multiple-choice items and that they encourage them to express themselves clearly. However, they can be misused by teachers who use them to test student memorization rather than to assess students’ ability to integrate knowledge into coherent explanations.
Another way of assessing student understanding is through essay-type questions, which allow students to write about a topic in their own words. These can also be useful for evaluating student writing skills and providing feedback to help them improve. This type of evaluation should be done carefully and respectfully so that it does not discourage students. It is best if it occurs in small groups where students can help each other and discuss their responses.
Open-ended questions provide respondents with a lot of freedom in their responses. They are more natural than closed-ended questions and can result in deeper and more meaningful insights. For example, open-ended questions like “Why do you like the bands/performers that you do?” or “What was your favorite travel experience?” allow respondents to give more detailed responses than closed questions such as “Do you use statistical analysis software?”
The flexibility of open-ended questions also allows for unanticipated insights. They can help uncover hidden motivations, reveal surprising mental models and problem-solving strategies, and reveal hopes, fears, and concerns that the researcher did not initially expect. These types of insights are precious when analyzing data from surveys.
While open-ended questions are essential for surveying, they must be used with caution. A common mistake is asking too many open-ended questions. This can lead to overwhelming amounts of data that are difficult to interpret and analyze. Using too many open-ended questions can also cause respondents to feel overwhelmed and abandon the survey.
One way to avoid this is to use open-ended questions in conjunction with multiple-choice and short-answer questions. This will provide you with the quantitative data needed to analyze using analytics software and will still allow you to gather qualitative data from respondents.
Open-ended questions can be very helpful in getting the right kind of data from your audience or competitors. By gaining the right insights, you can improve your product, customer service, and even how you manage your team.
The most important thing to remember is that open-ended questions do not always yield quantitative results. They can be very time-consuming to complete and may not produce the results you are looking for, but they can still be instrumental in providing you with the right type of data that you need. Ultimately, you will need to decide what kind of data you are looking for before creating a survey or questionnaire. Then, you can determine what type of questions to ask. Closed-ended questions will provide the facts that you need for analytics and statistics, while open-ended questions can be used to collect a more in-depth response.
Peer Review Exercises
Peer review and self-evaluation exercises can be helpful for students working through any writing process, whether it’s an essay, legal document, or research paper. However, the professor must be clear about individual assignment goals, and these should be reflected in the review form used for the exercise. It is helpful to use readings and class discussions to provide the necessary scaffolding that will enhance students’ ability to effectively review their peers’ work or critically evaluate their writing.
It is also a good idea to pair up students and assign them specific assignments early in the course so that they can begin to become comfortable with each other throughout the term, even if they will not be transferred to each other for peer review during the same class sessions. This can help to prevent the kind of lopsided interactions that often occur where one student spends a great deal of time on their review while the partner rushes through it without much thought.
Another way to enhance the value of this type of in-class activity is to use a class discussion to debrief after the students have completed their review forms. This can be done either in person or via an online forum such as Canvas or Google Classroom. The professor can lead a discussion of the types of issues that typically come up in peer review or self-evaluation and can explain how these relate to the overall assignment goals.
In addition, the professor can use examples of strong and weak writing to highlight what kinds of feedback are most beneficial to the student writer. These debriefs can also help the professor to understand what kinds of questions are arising from the students’ reviews and how these can be addressed during future class discussions of writing techniques and issues related to the particular assignments. This will enhance the learning potential of this type of in-class activity. For more guidance on crafting guiding questions, rubrics, or checklists for your peer assessment assignments, see the Examples of PA Assignments webpage. The webpage includes tips on how to construct these types of question sets and sample assignments to inspire you.