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EDUC 6759: ASSESSING FOR LEARNING

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EDUC 6759: Assessing for Learning
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Week 5: Classroom Assessment
Imagine the following situations:

You’ve just finished grading a mid-term exam and all but two of your students got question four completely wrong.
You are in the middle of reviewing your students’ final projects and are finding that many of them are using a key concept inappropriately or out of context.
You are observing students on the final day of a clinical experience and note that well over half of them are performing a key task incorrectly.

Very few college teachers have avoided encountering these kinds of situations. It is tempting, in these cases, to blame the students—they didn’t study hard enough, they are lazy, they didn’t pay attention in class, they must have been unprepared for college-level work. While one or more of these factors may provide some of the explanation, we must also be prepared to look at our own practice and ask what we might have done better to help students understand a key concept, practice a key skill, or stay engaged and motivated.
Classroom assessment is a widely-used method of finding out what students are learning, before it’s too late. Classroom Assessment Techniques, or CATs as they are often called, are short, ungraded activities that are normally completed anonymously. Their purpose is not to evaluate students, but to provide you (and them) with feedback about their learning, and to provide a basis for adjusting teaching methods if appropriate. This week, you will learn how CATs can be used in all types of learning environments, with all types of students, to help you improve your teaching and your students’ learning. You will also be introduced to a special kind of CAT that relies on real-time personal response systems, or clickers, which can give immediate feedback on students’ understanding or ability to solve problems.
Learning Objectives
Students will:

Develop strategies for using Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) to investigate and address student learning challenges
Incorporate CATs into a learning plan

Photo Credit: Hybrid Images / Cultura / Getty Images
Learning Resources
Note: To access this week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.
Focus On: In this week’s Learning Resources, focus on ways in which faculty can use assessment, including both formal (graded) and informal assessment methods to improve their teaching; the nature of Classroom Assessment as a type of informal, ungraded assessment and its potential value in the learning process; specific methods for designing Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) and incorporating them into a learning plan; and the use of immediate-feedback technology such as clickers.
Required Readings
Course Text: Effective Grading: A Tool for Learning and Assessment in College
Chapter 10, “Using the Grading Process to Improve Teaching”
Book Excerpt: Light, G., Cox, R., & Calkins, S. (2009). Learning and teaching in higher education: The reflective professional. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Chapter 9, “Evaluating: Teaching and Course Evaluation”Copyright 2009 by Sage Publications, Ltd. Reprinted by permission of Sage Publications, Ltd., via the Copyright Clearance Center.
Book Excerpt: Bruff, D. (2009). Teaching with classroom response systems: Creating active learning environments. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Chapter 2, “Assessing Students with Clickers”Copyright 2009 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. – Books. Reprinted by permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. – Books via the Copyright Clearance Center.
Article: Steadman, M., & Svinicki, M. (1998). CATs: A student’s gateway to better learning. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, (75). San Francisco,CA: Jossey-Bass. Retrieved from the Walden Library using the Education Research Complete database: http://ezp.waldenulibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=9178823&site=ehost-live&scope=site
Note: Retrieved from Walden Library databases.
Document: Classroom Assessment Planning Template (Word document)
You will use this document for your Assignment this week.
Required Media
Video: Laureate Education (Producer). (2011). Clickers in the classroom [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Note:  The approximate length of this media piece is 33 minutes.

Dr. Luke Dawson, Senior Clinical Lecturer in Oral Surgery at the University of Liverpool’s Dental School, demonstrates his approach to developing students’ professional decision-making skills using interactive lectures and real-time feedback.

Accessible player –Downloads–Download Video w/CCDownload AudioDownload Transcript
Presentation: Classroom Assessment Strategies
This presentation presents ideas for incorporating popular CATs at the beginning, middle, and end of a course. 
Optional Resources
Article: Briggs, C. L., & Keyek-Franssen, D. (2010). Clickers and CATs: Using learner response systems for formative assessments in the classroom. EDUCAUSE Quarterly, 33(4). Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Quarterly/EDUCAUSEQuarterlyMagazineVolum/ClickersandCATsUsingLearnerRes/219138
Iowa State University. (2011). Classroom assessment techniques. Retrieved from
http://www.celt.iastate.edu/teaching/cat.html
The Center for Teaching. (2001). Classroom assessment techniques (CATs). Retrieved from

Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)


Discussion: Investigating a Teaching Problem with CATs, Part 1
It’s the last week of the term and it has not been an easy one. You have been teaching an introductory public speaking course that is required for all first-year students in your institution. While a few of your students have done well in class, most have shown little or no improvement in their speaking ability or their ability to develop and deliver an effective presentation. The final assignment in the course is a ten-minute face-to-face presentation to the class, on a topic of the student’s choice. On the big day, many of your students don’t even show up to class, and those who do are clearly not prepared. Although it’s too late to help these students now, you look ahead to the next term, and decide to incorporate Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) into your class to help you better understand what’s going on.
By Day 3
Post your initial thoughts about how you could use CATs next term to investigate your students’ difficulties.

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