How do we know whether students are picking up what we’re putting down? Assessments help evaluate student understanding. And what else can they do? What other purposes can they serve? Can some, sometimes, do more harm than good? Are your assessments for your students, for you, or for the institution? From essays and quizzes to group projects and creative presentations, from letter grades to grading contracts, we’ll work this week to bust open what we thought we knew about assessing student learning. We’ll think broadly about how to assess and we’ll consider some alternative motivational strategies such as gamification. We’ll talk, too, about making choices (how, what, when, and who we assess) that reflect our pedagogies and values.

Read + Discuss

Choose one sentence or idea that is surprising to you, and one that is affirming to you from these readings/watchings. Post them in our  #5-read-discuss  channel in Slack, along with any other reflections you’d like to share. Please limit your initial post to fewer than 10 sentences and be sure to respond to your colleagues.

Case Study

For this week’s case studies we are sharing four assessments in four separate courses, that aren’t the normal run-of-the-mill activities. I include screenshots of the course environments and talk briefly about each of the assessments, though I don’t cover them in depth. I really wanted to keep the video short. That being said, if you’re interested in hearing more about a particular course or assessment, just ask in Slack and we can dig into the details.

Explore this week’s case study, then share your thoughts on our  #case-study channel  in Slack.

See more of the courses featured:

Build Something

Before next Wednesday, complete one of the “build’ options and share a link/file + 2-sentence reflection in our  #6-builds  channel in Slack.  

Option 1: Choose a topic or skill that you are planning to target in your course. Design an assessment for this that employs a strategy you have not used before. Examples might be: iterative drafting/attempts, peer review or collaboration, student-led testing, or gamification. Try and connect the assessment to the outcomes that you wrote last week.

Option 2:  Write a one paragraph grading/assessment plan/policy for your course that will go in your syllabus, or for a specific assignment or sequence of assignments. Questions to consider as you write your policy:

  • Do you allow revisions?
  • Are your grades weighted?
  • What is graded and what is not graded?
  • Are there any pass/fail assignments?
  • Do you want to grade participation, and if so, how?
  • Is the percent breakdown of assignment types in your course clear?
  • Are their ways that students can game the grading system by not participating and still passing?