One way to gauge student learning more frequently

I just posted about how doing a pretest/posttest assessment isn’t going to help students enrolled in a course now. So I thought I’d share one educational technology solution that nearly anyone can use in their courses. I’m going to make this post in the context of a large scale course with students number close to 300, but it is just as applicable in a smaller setting.

A simple solution for checking for understanding is having a quick out the door survey for students to complete about whatever about the lesson. How I would set this up would be to have a survey in Google Forms or Survey Monkey or even Poll Everywhere if you wanted, that was very short. I’d have two likert-type scale questions with the usual strongly disagree, disagree, neither agree nor disagree, etc. Here are my questions:

  1. I understand the topic of today’s lesson.
  2. I still have questions about the topic of today’s lesson.

Then I’d have one open-ended questions:

  1. Please list any questions you have about the topic of today’s lesson.

The KISS principle really comes into play here. Keep is quick, easy and to the point. There’s no need to have in depth surveys or other assessments for students to take if you are trying to make minor adjustments to your teaching so you are more effective and the students learn more.

Will this take time? Yes, it will take some time, but not that much and you really shouldn’t devote that much time to this unless there’s problem. The good thing about using these technologies is that there’s a built-in analytic tool that makes analyzing that much data really easy.

Does this mean I shouldn’t do a pretest/posttest? No, still do that. It’s data and it can help you improve over time. Just don’t base all your decisions on those data points. That’d be like making major decisions on student standardized test scores…oh, right…can’t win ’em all…

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