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For my first post to the CTL blog, I wanted to share some resources with the larger UVM community as a follow-up to my Sound (Teaching) Bite this week that offered a few strategies and tools for educators to help students assess their own learning styles and abilities to read, comprehend, understand, and learn course materials.

soundbite image

The focus on getting students in gear for learning is really about preparing students to become their own active learning agents—accountable for and engaged in the process of learning.

As with creating courses, the course objectives are the first step. Before we go there, here are some guiding questions I shared to help with this discussion:

  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 helpful roadmap to help them figure out what they are reading. It is broken down into 3 parts: Planning (preparing students to focus), Reading (how to read – techniques to help with retention), and Evaluate (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 the technique for reading efficiently changes based on the type of material that is being studied and provides tips along the way.

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 to assist students connect to and analyze what they are reading. Here are the categories: Identification of problem or issue, 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 4 strategies to promote meaning making when reviewing assigned readings both in the classroom and at home. I really appreciate her candid writing about the importance of engaging students, especially when it comes to assigned readings. 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 in reference to student learning. This post offers some assessment-related tips to get you started in measuring student learning.
Here is another from the Bok blog that speaks directly to the question “How Do We Measure [Student] Learning?”
http://blog.bokcenter.harvard.edu/2012/03/05/how-do-we-measure-learning/

Authentic Learning
http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI3019.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.
Here is a clip from the abstract that captures the heart of this paper, “Educators who strive to bring authentic learning experiences to their students must devise appropriate and meaningful measures to assess student learning and mastery of concepts at hand.” 

More information about Assessment—Formative and Summative by Richard Swearingen at Heritage University, take a look at
http://slackernet.org/assessment.htm

*Don’t forget about the
Writing Center at UVM
http://www.uvm.edu/wid/writingcenter/, and the
UVM Learning Co-op in L/L
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. 

By providing students the tools and resources to guide their learning, they can begin to assess their own process, making themselves active agents in their own learning process. Which in-turn helps students by giving them a sense of what skills they may need support to strengthen in order to succeed. 

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 Menzies) directly, send me a note at hmenzies@uvm.edu