By design, flipped learning environments encourage continuous opportunities to assess student learning. When you’re walking around the classroom talking with students, listening to their conversations, and providing support when they ask questions, you’re engaging in formative assessment. Formative assessment is a way of informally gathering feedback about students’ learning. Formative assessment allows you the opportunity to check in on your students so you can provide additional support or resources if needed. Typically, this type of assessment is not graded, but it is collected or reviewed to determine what “sticks” and what doesn’t.
There are literally hundreds of formative assessment strategies, and you can use them at any moment during your class. You could use a strategy as your focusing activity to begin class. You could try one in the middle of class to help students re-group or re-energize. Or, you could add one to the end of class to determine which topics need more discussion or explanation. Here are ten strategies to help you get started:
1. One Sentence Summary
Ask students to write a one sentence summary in their own words. A few examples: (1) Summarize a theory; (2) Interpret the first four lines of a poem; (3) Explain the final answer to a problem; (4) Explain the main point of the video; (5) Justify a decision based on the findings presented in an article.
2. Ticket Out the Door
Plan 2-3 minutes at the end of class for students to write, solve, fill in the blank, or plan the next step of their research project. After they fill in their response on a sheet of paper or index card, they must submit them to you before leaving class that day.
3. Three Things I Learned
Ask students to write three things they learned in class. This strategy is interesting because it will allow you to see what types of activities and topics create the most interest. Do students only remember what was covered during the first few minutes of class? Do they mainly remember the activity or demonstration you used? Did they get the main point of the lecture?
4. Clearest Point, Muddiest Point
Here’s a popular classroom assessment technique from Angelo & Cross (1993). At any point during class, most likely at the end, ask students to write one concept they clearly understand or remember from today’s class (clearest point). Then, ask students to write one concept that is still confusing or something they are uncertain about (muddiest point). When you review their responses, you will most likely see themes emerge in terms of what “sticks” and what doesn’t when it comes to the types of teaching and learning strategies you used in class. It also boosts students’ confidence because they can explain what they know while also allowing them the opportunity to ask for additional clarification about something that is still causing confusion.
5. The One Takeaway
After an experiential activity, discussion, or lecture, give students time to write the one concept they took away from the experience. What’s the big lesson they learned? What do they remember? This can be written as a reflective blog post or journal entry, or students might post it on a discussion board so they can share their ideas with their colleagues.
6. Draw It
Looking for a creative alternative to assessment? Give your students a blank sheet of paper and ask them to draw a concept from the lesson. If you have enough time, students can share and discuss their drawings in small groups and teach their interpretation of the concept to their peers. You can also adapt this idea and ask students to draw how they study, how they write a paper, or how they prepare for class.
7. Explain it to a 7 Year Old
Ask students to explain a complicated course concept as if they were teaching it to a child. The point of this exercise is to help students focus on the “why” and the “how” instead of getting too overwhelmed in all of the technical jargon.
8. One Minute Paper
Another popular classroom assessment technique from Angelo & Cross (1993) is the One Minute Paper. Give students one minute to write about a concept from class, from the video, or from the reading. In one minute, they should be able to convey the main point. If not, this exercise will help them focus, refine, and condense their message since they only have one minute to respond.
9. One More Question
No matter how much time we allow for questions, it seems there’s always one more question someone didn’t have time to ask. Here’s their chance. At the end of class or before the next class, ask students to write one remaining question on an index card. Then you can review these for continued discussion, or you can distribute the index cards randomly in the next class and see if other students can answer the question written on the card. You could also adapt this technique for a homework assignment or group activity.
10. What’s Next?
If you’ve reached the end of a unit or module, or if your students are preparing for a test or project, take a moment to help them articulate the next step in the process. Give them a couple of minutes to organize their thoughts and write their plan for the very next step they need to accomplish before they can move ahead. If you decide to review this information, it’ll show you where your students are in a process and it could help students avoid procrastinating.
These 10 formative assessment strategies are designed to give your students an opportunity to practice without being graded, and they give you an opportunity to get feedback without waiting until final projects are due. Try combining a couple of these together, and try them during random moments during class and throughout the semester. Be careful not to overuse them or do the same one too often. Mix it up – if you use the same one all of the time, they will lose their effectiveness. If students know the assessment is coming, then the point of the activity will be diminished.
Angelo, T. A. & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Honeycutt, B. (2012). 101 ways to FLIP! Raleigh, NC: Flip It Consulting, LLC.