Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Importance of Early Assessment

Student assessment is a fundamental aspect of teaching. This assessment can take many forms (tests, quizzes, papers, projects, etc.), and can be both formative (primarily designed to help students learn and improve) or summative (designed primarily to measure student progress). There are good reasons to have both formative and summative evaluations early in the semester (within the first two weeks). The students benefit from early evaluations because it helps them get an immediate sense for both the strengths they bring to the particular class and areas of weakness they may need to focus on. Instructors benefit because they also get a sense for where students are in terms of their grasp of the basic materials of the course, and assessments can be used by the instructor to shape the course as it progresses. Online students, particularly, benefit from an early assessment, and new DOE regulations will likely require faculty to give students some sort of assessment within the first few class periods.

Instructors who would like to expand their repertoire of assessment techniques are encouraged to check out Angelo and Cross's Classroom Assessment Techniques, which is located in the I.D. Weeks library.

An early assessment, regardless of whether it is a one-minute writing assignment, a 5-minute quiz or a full-blown project can benefit both the instructor and the student. Give it a try!

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