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

Gamification, Assessment, and the Joy of Learning (1 hour video) A one hour video probably sounds daunting. Most one hour videos are boring and suck. This does not. There are brilliant insights offered by the featured lecturer and his story telling schtick is quite catchy. Turning on captions may help some follow along with the speaker’s accent and rapid style of delivery.

The Case Against Grades (blog post by Alfie Kohn)

Ranking, Evaluating, and Liking (article by Peter Elbow)

Check out and participate in the discussion on our #readinggroup channel in Slack. What questions do these pieces raise for you? (Where) Do you agree and disagree? What’s missing from the debate?

Join the discussion anytime. If you’re interested in a faster-paced conversation, log-in on Friday at lunchtime. We’ll chat live from 12-1!


Build Something!

Option 1: Build an assessment that employs a strategy you have not used before — iterative drafting/attempts, peer review or collaboration, student-led testing, gamification, or … Why this strategy for this assessment?

Option 2: Write a grading/assessment plan/policy for your course or for a specific assignment or sequence of assignments. What are your beliefs about the role of assessment in learning and how will you share those with your students?

Post your build in our Slack channel, #build-2-assessment, by Monday and check in when you can to give feedback to your colleagues.


iTeach+: Crafting Curriculum for Critical Thinking

Thursday, February 8, 1p – 2p
Collaborate Ultra Session

What are you doing to encourage critical thinking in your classroom? Not enough? This session will help you rethink your assignments. Learn what your colleagues are doing and contribute to better critical thinking at UAF.

See our faculty development calendar for more iTeach+ options this week.

Open Labs

  • Wednesday, 7 February 2018, 1p – 3p, Virtual Lab via Google Hangout
  • Friday, 9 February 2018, 10a – Noon, Bunnell Room 145 (UAF eLearning)
  • Tuesday, 13 February 2018, 2p – 4p, Bunnell Room 145