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Assessment: Course Assessment

What is Classroom Assessment?

Classroom assessment is both a teaching approach and a set of techniques. The approach is that the more you know about what and how students are learning, the better you can plan learning activities to structure your teaching. The techniques are mostly simple, non-graded, anonymous, in-class activities that give both you and your students useful feedback on the teaching-learning process.


What makes classroom assessment different from grading?

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Classroom assessment differs from tests and other forms of student assessment in that it is aimed at course improvement, rather than at assigning grades. The primary goal is to better understand your students' learning and so to improve your teaching. 


Traditional methods of evaluating student learning usually occur at the end of the term (summative), when it is too late to make any changes. They are also very threatening to students because they are normally graded and will affect their success in the course. Classroom assessment techniques, on the other hand, are non-threatening ways of evaluating student learning and their reaction to your teaching methods. The purpose of classroom assessment is to enable both instructors and students to mutually improve learning.  Faculty, and for that matter students, need effective ways of monitoring learning throughout the semester.

Classroom Assessment

Keys to Quality Classroom Assessment

Sound classroom assessment instruments and practices are built on a foundation of the following five keys to quality:

  1. They are designed to serve the specific information needs of intended user(s).
  2. They are based on clearly articulated and appropriate achievement targets (learning outcomes).
  3. They accurately measure student achievement.
  4. They yield results that are effectively communicated to their intended users.
  5. They involve students in self-assessment, goal setting, reflection, and sharing their learning.

5 Keys to Quality Classroom Assessment


Why Should I Do Classroom Assessment?

For Faculty

More frequent use of classroom assessment can:

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Provide short-term feedback about the day-to-day learning and teaching process at a time when it is still possible to make mid-course corrections.

Provide useful information about student learning with a much lower investment of time compared to tests, papers, and other traditional means of learning assessment.

Help to foster good rapport with students and increase the efficacy of teaching and learning.

Encourage the view that teaching is a formative process that evolves over time with feedback. Panel Content

For Students

More frequent use of classroom assessment can:

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Help them become better monitors of their own learning.

Help break down feelings of anonymity, especially in larger courses.

Point out the need to alter study skills.

Provide concrete evidence that the instructor cares about learning.

Planning to Use Classroom Assessment

It is important that you feel comfortable doing this kind of assessment. Not all teaching styles are the same; neither is assessment universal. The following five guidelines by Cross and Angelo in their book “Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for Faculty” reinforce this.

5 guidelines for using assessment

Knowing what you are looking for will help to determine which technique to choose, and how to interpret the results. Therefore, before using any technique, best assessment practices recommend using a planning worksheet like the one below.

classroom assessment planning sheet
PDF File

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