students standing at top of mountain

I wrote this post a couple of years ago and I want to share it again because the resources are so valuable.

Getting students in gear for learning is really about preparing students to become active agents in their own learning—both engaged in and accountable for the process.

As with creating courses, the course objectives are the first step. Before we go there, here are some guiding questions:

  1. How do you know if your students are understanding, comprehending, and learning their course reading material?
  2. How do you get your students to do the readings?
  3. How do you know your students are learning and absorbing content?
    Guess what? They may not know either!
  4. How do I help students be accountable for their learning process? I propose that with consistent assessment and evaluation deeper learning can happen.

So how do we do this? Remember, as mentioned above:

Evaluation needs to connect to learning objectives.

As you start this process, ask yourself, why are you evaluating?

  • To make sure that students prepare for classroom discussion? (formative)
  • To prepare students to succeed on class exams? (summative)

Here are a few tools for evaluating student learning:

  • Anonymous quizzes for "just in time teaching" (JiTT) – formative assessment
  • Readiness assessment tests (RATs) or online mid-semester and end-of-year survey (ungraded) – formative assessment
  • Pre- and Post- exams (graded) – formative and summative assessment
  • Using iClickers in the classroom – formative assessment

Examples and resources for preparing students to succeed and help them get to know their learning process:

Reader's Guide
http://www.facultyfocus.com/wp-content/uploads/images/readers-guide.pdf
Developed by Tiffany F. Culver, PhD, this reading guide is a great tool that you can adapt and give to students as a road map to help them understand what they’re reading. It’s broken down into three parts: Planning (preparing students to focus), reading (how to read – techniques to help with retention), and evaluating (promoting critical thinking). This 1-page guide (2-sided) is helpful to all students and makes reading accessible and efficient. It also makes me wish I had something like this when I was in college!

Reading Strategies
http://www.mindtools.com/rdstratg.html
In this blog post, MindTools authors provide helpful tips and resources for pulling out the important information when reading (including info on mind-mapping for active reading). What I like about this post is that it breaks down the process of "reading efficiently by reading intelligently" and looks at how reading techniques change based on the type of material that is being studied.

Using Reading Prompts to Encourage Critical Thinking
http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/using-reading-prompts-to-encourage-critical-thinking/
In this article on Faculty Focus, Maryellen Weimer, PhD reviews highlights from Terry Tomasek's book, The Teaching Professor and takes a look at using reading prompts to help students read and write more critically. The prompts in the book are organized into six categories: making connections, interpretation of evidence, challenging assumptions, making application, and mechanics.

Making the Review of Assigned Reading Meaningful
http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/making-the-review-of-assigned-reading-meaningful/
In this article, Sarah K Clark, PHD gives us four strategies to promote meaning-making when reviewing assigned readings. I really appreciate her candid writing about the importance of engaging students. Sarah shares techniques and ideas that have been helpful to her in her class: “the top ten,” secondary sources, journaling, and divide and conquer (for larger size classes)

Key Terms: Assessment
http://blog.bokcenter.harvard.edu/2012/02/08/key-terms-assessment/
In this blog post from the Bok Center at Harvard University, assessment is highlighted and examined. This post offers some assessment-related tips. Here is another from the Bok blog that speaks directly to the question "How Do We Measure Learning?" http://blog.bokcenter.harvard.edu/2012/03/05/how-do-we-measure-learning/

Authentic Learning
A Primer_ Diagnostic, Formative, & Summative Assessment.pdf
Marilyn M. Lombardi talks about the important role of assessment in relation to successful teaching and learning in this Educause Learning Initiative paper – Making the Grade: The Role of Assessment in Authentic Learning.

On-campus Help
And remember the Writing Center at UVM (http://www.uvm.edu/wid/writingcenter/), and the UVM Learning Co-op in Living/Learning (http://www.uvm.edu/learnco/). These are helpful resources on campus to share with your students to help enhance their writing skills and to get assistance with studying.

Next Steps:

If you would like to sit with a member of the CTL to talk about ways to use these tools to assess your students, request an appointment by emailing ctldoc@uvm.edu. If you would like to contact me (Henrie Pazamor) directly, send me a note at hpazamor@uvm.edu.