From Classroom Assessment Techniques. A Handbook for College Teachers by Thomas A. Angelo and K. Patricia Cross, Second Edition, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers, 1993. Fifty Classroom Assessment Techniques are presented in this book. The book is located in the Center for Teaching and Learning Resource Room, Atkins 149C, if you want additional techniques or additional information on the techniques described below. These techniques are to be used as starting points, ideas to be adapted and improved upon.
Description. At the first class meeting, many college teachers ask students for general information on their level of preparation, often requesting that students list courses they have already taken in the relevant field. This technique is designed to collect much more specific, and more useful, feedback on students' prior learning. Background Knowledge Probes are short, simple questionnaires prepared by instructors for use at the beginning of a course, at the start of a new unit or lesson, or prior to introducing an important new topic. A given Background Knowledge Probe may require students to write short answers, to circle the correct response to multiple-choice questions, or both.
Description. No other technique has been used more often or by more college teachers that the Minute Paper. This technique - also known as the One-Minute Paper and the Half-Sheet Response - provides a quick and extremely simple way to collect written feedback on student learning. To use the Minute Paper, an instructor stops class two or three minutes early and asks students to respond briefly to some variation on the following two questions: "What was the most important thing you learned during this class?" and "What important question remains unanswered?" Students they write their responses on index cards or half-sheets of scrap paper and hand them in.
Description. The Muddiest Point is just about the simplest technique one can use. It is also remarkable efficient, since it provides a high information return for a very low investment to time and energy. The technique consists of asking students to jot down a quick response to one question: "What was the muddiest point in....?" The focus of the Muddiest Point assessment might be a lecture, a discussion, a homework assignment, a play, or a film.
Description. This simple technique challenges students to answer the questions "Who does what to whom, when, where, how, and why?" (represented by the letters WDWWWWHW) about a given topic, and then to synthesize those answers into a simple informative, grammatical, and long summary sentence.
Description. After students figure out what type of problem they are dealing with, they often must then decide what principle or principles to apply in order to solve the problem. This technique focuses on this step in problem solving. It provides students with a few problems and asks them to state the principle that best applies to each problem.
Description: The instructor asks students to paraphrase part of a lesson for a specific audience and purpose, using their own words. This is especially useful for pre-professional students who will be asked in their careers to translate specialized information into language that clients or customers can understand.
Purpose: This technique allows faculty to examine students' understanding of information and their ability to transform it into a form that can be meaningful to specific audiences other than the student and instructor. This task is more complex than simple paraphrasing (or summary) in that the faculty member directs the student to speak/write to a particular audience and purpose.
Suggestions for Use: The task works well when students are learning topics or concepts that they will later be expected to communicate to others. When this is not the case (perhaps in general education classes in the humanities), the faculty member might want to ask students to write to other students in the class or to other freshmen at CMU.
Using Information: Answers can be grouped into four sets -- confused, minimal, adequate, and excellent. Then examine responses within and across the four evaluative categories for accuracy, suitability for the intended audience, and effectiveness in fulfilling the assigned purpose. An alternative is to circle the clearest (best) point made by each student and the worst (muddiest) point. Then the responses from students can be grouped to find patterns of clarity and confusion.
Description: After students have been introduced to some principle, generalization, theory, or procedure, the instructor passes out index cards and asks students to write down at least one possible, real-world application for what they have just learned.
Step By Step: This technique allows faculty to determine quickly whether students understand the applications of what they have learned. Students are forced to link new information with prior knowledge. They may also have an increased interest in the material covered if they are asked to speak immediately to the ways in which this new material can be applied in real world settings.
Suggestions for Use: Most classes cover material that can/should be applied. The technique is often used in the social sciences, in technical fields, and in pre-professional courses.
Using Information: Answers can be separated into four groups -- great, acceptable, marginal, and not acceptable. Responses might be discussed in the next class, with some attention given to factors that argue for and against sets of responses.