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Assess students

Why assess student learning?

Without student assessments, it is not really possible to know if students are learning or meeting your goals and course expectations.  

Instructors who assume that students are learning just because they were present during a lecture, are often disappointed when they grade exams, assignments, and papers and see evidence to the contrary. Too often there are substantial gaps between what was taught and what was learned. Unfortunately, not noticing these gaps until students complete exams or turn in final products often means it is too late to remedy problems.

Student assessment is not the same as grading. With grading, the instructor simply scores student work. With assessment, the instructor can assign a grade, but also explores how to improve student learning. For example, an instructor assessing student work would ask, “How many students met this expectation? Should I provide an additional explanation or opportunity? Do I need to modify the presentation of the material?” Student assessments allow you to monitor student learning throughout the course and gives you the ability to make necessary adjustments to improve learning.  

The regular assessment of students also helps to improve your instruction as well. Student assessments can help determine which instructional approaches are working and which are not; as well as explore which assignments or exams are constructed sufficiently.  

To maximize the benefit of student assessments, you should plan your assessment strategy as you develop your syllabus. [more]

Benefits of an assessment

Learn more about

Student assessment process

Plan your student assessment

Student assessment methods

Additional resources

Page last updated: Sep 21 2011
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