Course-level Assessment 
is 
designed
 to 
help instructors 
find 
out 
what 
students 
are
 learning 
and 
how 
well 
they 
are 
learning 
it.
 

Assessment and Evaluation of student learning at the course-level, then, falls into two categories:

  1. Formative assessment and evaluation - assessment FOR learning to inform teaching and improve learning; used as feedback devices
  2. Summative assessment and evaluation - assessment OF learning to make judgements about individual student achievement & assign grades

Angelo & Cross (1993, Classroom Assessment Techniques) highlight characteristics 
of 
classroom
 assessment: 

  1. Learner‐Centered
 – 
its
 focus 
is 
on 
observing 
and 
improving 
learning, 
rather
 than 
on observing 
and 
improving 
teaching
  2. Teacher‐Directed
 – 
the 
individual 
teacher 
decides 
what 
to 
assess, 
how 
to 
assess, 
and how 
to 
respond 
to 
the 
information 
gained 
through 
the 
assessment
  3. Mutually
 Beneficial
 – 
students 
reinforce 
course 
content 
and 
strengthen 
their 
self‐assessment 
skills; 
faculty 
sharpen 
their 
teaching 
focus 
by 
asking 
3
 questions: 
“What 
are
 the 
essential 
skills 
and 
knowledge 
I
 am
 trying 
to 
teach?”, 
“How 
can 
I 
find 
out 
whether
 students 
are 
learning 
them?”, 
and 
“How 
can 
I
 help 
students 
learn 
better?”
  4. Formative
 – 
its 
purpose 
is 
to 
improve 
the 
quality 
of 
student 
learning, 
not 
to 
provide
 evidence 
for 
evaluating 
or 
grading 
students; 
it 
provides 
information 
on what, 
how
 much, 
and
 how 
well 
students 
are 
learning
  5. Context‐Specific
 – 
the 
assessment 
technique 
is 
chosen 
to 
fit 
the 
subject 
matter 
and 
the
 needs 
of 
the 
particular 
class
  6. Ongoing 
– 
it 
is 
an 
ongoing 
process, 
i.e. 
the 
creation 
and 
maintenance 
of 
a 
classroom
 “feedback 
loop”; 
as 
this 
approach 
becomes 
integrated 
into 
everyday classroom
 activities, 
the 
communications 
loop 
between 
faculty 
(teaching) 
and 
students 
(learning)
 becomes 
more 
efficient 
and 
effective; 
it 
provides 
early feedback
–
before 
students 
are
 evaluated 
for 
grades
–
so 
that 
necessary 
adjustments 
can 
be 
made

Formative Evaluations are evaluations FOR learning

They are often ungraded and informal. Their aim is to provide both the students and instructor with a gauge of where their level of understanding is at the current moment, and enable the instructor to adjust accordingly to meet the emerging needs of the class. Do I need to re-explain that concept differently? Do I need to backtrack two steps and catch everyone up to where we are now? Do I need to change my pedagogical approach to engage this group of students?

Formative evaluations are particularly important because they allow you to make changes that affect the current students, while the end of term forms only affect future classes. In addition, formative evaluations signal your class that you are indeed interested in what and how they're learning, and in their responses to your teaching.

Some examples of Formative Evaluations:

One-Minute Paper

Check student understanding in a lesson by asking them to take out a sheet of paper and take one minute to, for example, write down an explanation of a concept, solve an equation, or draw a main point from a reading. 

Muddiest Point Paper

Check student understanding in a lesson by asking them to take out a sheet of paper and take one minute to write down a single question about, or the most confusing aspect of, the topic of/for the day.

Directed Paraphrase

After working through a topic, ask students to explain the content to a lay audience in their own words.

Mid-Semester Evaluation

In order to conduct a mid-semester evaluation, you might want to use the generic Standard mid-semester evaluation, or modify it in any way; there may be particular additional questions you would like to ask, for instance. If you do use some form of mid-term evaluation, we encourage you to discuss the results with your class, explaining for instance, why you can't cut down on some topic, or why, based on the suggestions of the class, you will add a discussion of a particular topic.

How to present a mid-semester evaluation to your class:

"Today,  I'd like you to fill out a short mid-semester evaluation. The information you provide is just for me, and your input is extremely valuable. It helps me gauge how the course is progressing at the moment, that is, what is going well from your standpoint and whether you have any suggestions for how we might proceed for the rest of the semester. It also lets me know whether you are learning what I hope you are. I will report back to you about the results of this evaluation."

Summative Assessments

Summative assessments are used to evaluate student learning at the end of a unit or course and often determine course grades, or at least carry great value towards that determination. Summative assessment tools most commonly utilized are mid-term or end-of-term exams to determine the level at which students achieved the expectations for their learning as prescribed by the instructor and to identify instructional areas that may need additional attention.

*Information from summative assessments can be used formatively when students or faculty use it to guide their efforts and activities in subsequent courses.