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Assessment Quick Tips

Every week, the Office of Assessment sends out an Assessment Tip of the Week to the faculty and staff at Hunter College. Check out our quick tips on learning outcomes, rubrics, measuring student learning, ongoing/formative assessment, providing feedback, surveys, self and peer-assessment, and more from over the last few semesters!

Learning Outcomes

  • Having trouble writing strong Course Learning Outcomes? Try beginning with clarifying the purpose of the course! This will help illuminate the main topics or themes related to student learning, helping to outline the expected learning outcomes for the course.
  • Remember, learning outcomes describe what students should be able to know and do at the end of the course. Effective learning outcomes are observable, measurable, and specify an action to be done by the students!
  • Learning outcomes should involve verbs that describe what the learner will be able to do! Having trouble coming up with good action words? Head on over to the Assessment website for a helpful list!
  • It’s the beginning of the semester! Ready to begin the assessment process but unsure of where to begin? Start by defining your Student Learning Outcomes! Student Learning Outcomes describe what students should be able to know and do as a result of the course. Head on over to our website for more information on how to write Student Learning Outcomes. 
  • It is the beginning of the semester and you know what that means – time to review your course learning outcomes! If you are having trouble writing your CLO’s, try the following: think about how you learned the material, talk to other faculty, or review similar course syllabi online. For more information on course learning outcomes head on over to our website.

Rubrics

  • Having trouble grading papers? Try creating a rubric! Head on over to our website to learn about the advantages of rubrics and on how to create effective rubrics! 
  • Did you know? At Hunter, you can create rubrics and grade electronically-submitted work, as well as conduct an item analysis on an electronic exam, all on Blackboard!
  • Research shows that providing a rubric to students ahead of time improves their performance by helping students understand the criteria for evaluation so that they can prepare appropriately.
  • Creating a department-wide rubric? Try a group norming session - get together and grade student work samples to ensure consistent evaluation!
  • Having trouble with writing rubrics? Head on over to iRubric to take a look at hundreds of examples to help get you started! 
  • Did you know that rubrics aren’t only a helpful grading tool, but also a great tool for assessment! When rubric criteria are tied to learning outcomes, instructors can quickly assess where their students are struggling or succeeding in their learning. For more information on rubrics, including how to create them, head on over to our website!
  • Why use rubrics? Because they help instructors and students! Rubrics help instructors consistently assess assignment from student to student. Rubrics help students understand expectations of an assignment and become more aware of their learning process and progress.  Want more information on developing rubrics? Check out our website!
  • Quick Tip: sharing your rubrics with students ahead of time allows them the opportunity to know and understand how they are being evaluated.
  • How can rubrics mitigate stereotype threat? Rubrics, and accompanying feedback, are clear ways to communicate that you have high standards and that you believe students can meet those standards. This helps students to trust that they will not be judged on the basis of a stereotype and motivates their engagement in class.

Measuring Student Learning

  • Students learn in many different ways. Therefore, try to incorporate a variety of assessments (multiple choice tests, written assignments, presentations, E-portfolios) allowing students to have the chance to demonstrate their learning in many different ways!
  • Looking to improve your multiple choice tests? Check out this list of 10 Tips for Creating Good Multiple Choice Questions! 
  • How well are your assignments helping you measure student learning? What makes for a good assignment anyway? Assignments that match the content and skills mentioned in your learning outcomes work best. Fill-in-the-blank test questions work best to measure students’ ability to recall factual information while presentations work best to measure students’ ability to design something new.
  • Looking for ways to directly measure student learning at the program level? Consider direct assessments such as a capstone course or ePortfolios. Research indicates that students learn most effectively when they have a synthesizing experience such as these! Check out our website for more information on assessing student learning at the program level!
  • Uncertain how to go about measuring your student learning outcomes? No need to redesign your entire course! Try making small tweaks to your current assignments. Create a rubric for assignments or create a few exam questions directly tied your learning outcomes.
  • Assessment experts recommend using multiple methods of gathering evidence of student learning over time. Assessment instruments include anything from course-embedded assignments, portfolios, or capstone projects. Check out our website for more information on assessing student learning on the program level.
  • Students can be assessed either directly or indirectly. Direct assessment measures student work including exam questions, presentations, or papers. Indirect assessment measures students’ own perceptions of their learning, including surveys and exit interviews. Choose the method that will provide the most useful information if possible. If possible, use more than one method! 

Ongoing/Formative Assessment

  • Assessment works best for students and teachers when it is ongoing. Assessing students many times throughout the course period allows students multiple opportunities to demonstrate their understanding. When teachers assess their students frequently, they can have more opportunities to adjust instruction and practice. Assessment works best when it is ongoing at the program level as well. Ongoing program assessment can look like tracking progress of student performance over time with portfolios.
  • Portfolios are a great example of ongoing assessment. They provide faculty with an opportunity to see student learning and growth over time. They provide students with an opportunity to improve skills of self-reflection, self-assessment, and creativity. Now, with electronic portfolios, it is even easier for students to store and distribute their work. Check out this blog post for more information, and a student’s reflection, about ePortfolios!
  • Looking for a way to quickly assess student learning throughout the semester? Consider formative assessments! Formative assessment techniques are simple, non-graded classroom activities whose purpose is to provide the instructor with quick feedback on student learning. They are fast, flexible, and beneficial for students too. Interested? Check out our website for more benefits, examples, and links to more information.

Feedback

  • Looking for ways to make your feedback more effective? Try providing feedback in a timely manner, while information is still fresh.
  • Looking for ways to make your feedback more effective? Consider offering explanations to students about why they were wrong. Helping a student understand his or her learning challenge is more beneficial than just correcting the answer itself!
  • Grading can be a real pain, especially when you don’t have a lot of free time! But while students are eager to find out their grade, it’s actually your feedback that is most important. Research shows that students learn most effectively when they receive prompt, concrete feedback on their work. Try providing feedback that is timely, and that offers explanations as to why a student was wrong. This gives students the opportunity to understand his or her learning challenge.  

Surveys

  • Calling all survey writers! Tired of compiling and analyzing survey results by hand? Try Qualtrics, a web-based survey tool available for all of Hunter faculty, staff, and students. Qualtrics makes it easy to create surveys, collect data, and produce reports. Interested in Qualtrics? Ask the Office of Assessment staff for a tutorial!
  • What makes a good survey question? Good survey questions give you a useful and actionable answer, ask only one thing at a time, and do not lead people to particular answers. For more tips, check out this article posted on the Qualtrics website.
  • Do you have questions you would like to ask your students? Consider a survey, focus group, or interview!  Answer this: how much do you already know about what your respondents will say? Surveys work better when you already have an idea of what your respondents will say. 

Self and Peer-Assessment

  • Did you know that students who take an active role in their learning are often more motivated and engage with the material more deeply? Consider incorporating self-assessment in your classrooms. Self-assessment helps students to develop their self-evaluation, reflection, and critical analysis skills.
  • Research indicates that students learn most effectively when they are involved in the assessment process. Consider incorporating peer assessment in your classroom. Peer assessment helps students improve their communication skills and their ability to work with others.
  • It has been proven that self-assessment leads to enhanced motivation. Through self-evaluation of their progress and reflection on their learning, students will also demonstrate improved self-efficacy and confidence to learn.
  • Try giving students the chance to reflect on how they have improved. Creating moments to pause and mark success with your students generates motivation for future learning!

Miscellaneous

  • Did you know that technology can help enhance assessment? That’s right, technology enhances assessment by providing targeted and timely feedback, aggregating and storing results, and helping to evaluate the impact of instruction. Try incorporating technology into your classroom (link to Nikki blog post) with online quizzes, personal response systems like clickers, and multimedia assessments.
  • According to a recent NACE survey, employers considering new graduates look for individuals who demonstrate an ability to work in a team. In fact, research indicates that students learn most effectively when they spend most time interacting with others! So consider including opportunities for students to work collaboratively with peers in the classroom – such as group presentations, discussion groups, or peer review.
  • Want to know a key to assessment? Transparency! It is helpful for students when assessment criteria are made explicit. By understanding what is expected of them, students can then prepare appropriately.  Have student learning outcomes? Make them explicit on your syllabi! Do you grade with rubrics? Share rubrics with students ahead of time!
  • Unsure of how to measure those great course learning outcomes you came up with? Start with a course map! Course maps show which assignments or exam questions you will use as direct evidence of your student learning outcomes. Check our website for more information on how to create a course map!
  • Looking to makeover your syllabus? Check out this Syllabus Makeover Guide on the Office of Assessment website for some helpful information! 
  • Looking to assess the effectiveness of your office or program? Consider creating a logic model! Logic models help specify the relationships between the resources you have, the activities you carry out, and the outcomes or the impact that you hope to achieve. For more information on logic models, head on over to our website!
  • Setting high expectations for students – and communicating your faith in their ability to reach them – can improve students’ academic achievement. Recent data shows that students achieve more when they believe that their teachers expect that they will achieve at high levels in the classroom.
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