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Academic Technology Services blog

Let your students know how they’re doing

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One of the nice things about small class sizes is that it’s fairly easy to know how your students are doing. If they’re talking in class and doing well on assignments and quizzes, it’s not too hard to have keep their pulse and help them succeed…right?

Back when I taught English composition in Ecuador, I tried to help my students succeed by doing exercises with them every class day. We’d meet for 90 minutes and so students had frequent opportunities to “perform.” I wish that I had known used flipped instruction and frequent assessment then. Instead of going over mistakes in class, I could have posted them online for the students to correct and respond to outside of class, then we could have discussed they why in class. Additionally, by taking care of several small assessments outside class and posting the grades online, the students could have constantly known how they were doing.

In a recent blog post, Scott Warnock discusses the benefits of frequent low-stakes assessment in helping students. He says

The primary question most teachers have is this: How do I give lots of grades without breaking my back? Again, use a simple grading scale for individual assignments: 1 to 3, 1 to 5, 1 to 10, or even a check/check plus system. You can share/display grades in a CMS grade book. Remember, the object is creating grade-centric feedback, and the time payback comes when students do not constantly have to reach out to you about class performance; they already know, and when they do raise questions, the conversation is more focused than, “So, how am I doing in this class?”

Coupling that with a two-minute “quiz” at the end of class, which asks what struck students most and what they didn’t understand could have really helped me help my students and made end of term grading more easy.

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