assessing student learning

Five outstanding projects from across campus have been selected as winners of the annual Provost's Teaching Innovation Prize (TIP). You can learn more about these projects at the opening to the 2017 Enriching Scholarship conference. At 10:00am on Monday, May 1, in the Michigan Union's Rogel Ballroom, Vice Provost James Hilton will present the winning projects. Prior to the ceremony, a 9:00am poster fair and strolling breakfast in the same location offer the U-M community a chance to meet the faculty teams behind the TIP projects, as well as teams that have conducted projects through the Investigating Student Learning grant funded by CRLT and the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Engagement and Interdisciplinary Academic Affairs. Registration is appreciated.

headshots of faculty winners of the Provost's Teaching Innovatin Prize

This year's winning projects include: Read more »

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group photo in Morrinho, Brazil“Engaged learning” is a common term at the University of Michigan and a growing movement nationally. What does it mean? U-M’s working definition conceives of engaged learning as providing students with opportunities for practice in unscripted, authentic settings, where stakeholders (including the students themselves) are invested in the outcome. This pairs nicely with Grant Wiggins’s concept of “authentic assessment,” whereby students closely practice and demonstrate the type of work they will be doing after graduation: it is public, involves collaboration, and engages students in representative challenges of a field or subject, which are often ill-structured -- rather than having “right or wrong” answers. A more thorough exploration of engaged learning at Michigan can be found in a forthcoming series of Occasional Papers (more on these below). 

Here are a few of the many ways that students already experience engaged learning at U-M: Read more »

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The final weeks of the term can be an especially valuable time to engage students in reflective thinking about their learning. Often teachers use the end of the term as a time to review content, but you can also use this time of final projects and exam preparation to prompt student "metacognition," or critical thinking about their own learning processes. When students pay attention to how they learn best and deliberately assess their own strengths and weaknesses, they can more intentionally and successfully plan their future approaches to learning. By helping students develop such metacognitive habits, you can help solidify their learning in your course, increase their ability to make use of it in future courses, and enhance their capacities as self-directed learners.

What are some effective ways to prompt metacognition in the final weeks of the term? Specific strategies include:

  • Invite students to analyze one of their first assessments of the term, considering how they would approach the assignment or test differently now. What knowledge, skills, or habits of mind they have developed that were not evident in the early part of the semester? 
  • Review your syllabus, reminding students of your learning objectives for each unit or assignment. Have them write a 'minute paper' assessing their mastery of each goal.
  • Collect advice from current students for future students who take the course. What were their most and least effective study strategies or writing practices? What were the most challenging concepts to learn and how did they (or could they have) overcome those challenges? 

Such activities not only help students solidify, assess, and plan their learning--they can also help you understand in greater detail what students have gained from your course. For additional ideas about teaching metacognition (including bibliographies of research about how it improves learning), check out these resources:

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Minute Paper Screencast

This short screencast explains a series of uses of the simple assessment technique called a "minute paper." Featuring graduate student instructors and faculty, the video highlights innovative ways to use such brief writing exercises before or during class to collect feedback on student learning. This is a strategy that can work well in classes of any size or format.

 

 

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Adapted by Vilma Mesa and Mary Wright from Angelo & Cross (1993)
University of Michigan

“Classroom assessment helps individual college teachers obtain useful feedback on what, how much, and how well their students are learning. Faculty [and GSIs] can then use this information to refocus their teaching to help students make their learning more efficient and effective” (Angelo & Cross, p. 3).  The selected techniques listed below briefly describe the CAT, the amount of instructor preparation, and the amount of in-class time needed for each assessment. 

Name

Description

Time required

Application cards

After teaching about an important theory, principle, or procedure, ask students to write down at least one real-world application for what they have just learned to determine how well they can transfer their learning.

Prep: Low
In-class time: Low

Approximate analogies

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