Classroom Assessment Techniques
Teaching a New Concept:
The instructor can use the muddiest point technique when covering complex or confusing
information, before starting on a new subject, or at the end of a class. The technique
basically consists of the instructor asking the students to write down or post on a class
discussion board what they have had trouble understanding during the class – “What is the
muddiest point in this session?” If asking the question during the class, the instructor
can gather the papers and discuss some of the items mentioned. Verbal answers can also be
used instead of paper to facilitate discussions on the muddiest points, or feedback can be
required to be submitted electronically after class. (Source: Middle Tennessee State
One- Minute Paper:
During the last few minutes of class, ask students to write on a sheet of paper their
responses to two questions, which are usually some version of these:
1. What is the most important skill/concept/ point you learned today in class?
2. What one thing remains confusing or difficult to understand?
Feedback can be compiled after class and common responses can be covered in the next class, on a course website, or as appropriate.
One Sentence Summary:
The usual version of this follows the format “Who does what to whom, when, where, how and
why?” Students are asked to summarize a new class topic by including all pertinent
information in one sentence. The instructor can monitor individual understanding of the
topic by looking at responses. (Remember not to get too hung up on the format if students
stray beyond the one sentence limit.)
Frayer Model (for terms or technical vocabulary):
This is a model for mapping and understanding critical terminology for a course or subject
area. The model is usually a page-sized box with four quadrants, with the word at the
center. One box provides the definition, one the essential characteristics, one provides
examples, and one provides clarifying non-examples. See example below or go to the
Students pass around an envelope on which the instructor has written one question about
the day’s topic (something s/he is checking for understanding). Each student reads the
question, writes a brief response on paper or an index card, and slides it into the
envelope. Like the one sentence summary, the instructor can see quickly how many
students (and which ones, if names are used on the cards) may need additional clarification.
Layman’s Paraphrase (or child’s paraphrase):
Students write an explanation of the lesson’s concept that can be understood by someone
without the technical vocabulary or expertise acquired in the class. This forces
synthesis of information with general or familiar vocabulary. Especially good for courses
that use specialized vocabulary – allied health, scientific courses, and automotive, for examples.
Evaluating Understanding of Interrelationships between Topics:
A concept map links and organizes relationships of major and minor topics
within a larger concept…great for cause and effect, organizing ideas for
papers, or review for tests of entire units.
A two-dimensional grid with categories on both axes requires students to be
able to categorize items correctly. Grids could incorporate any two sets of
categories into which items could be grouped (geography – landforms and
countries, biology – cell types and characteristics, music – musical styles
and composers, etc…)
Group Activities to Assess Student Learning:
A gallery walk is a group-focused activity that serves to collect what
students know and think they know about a set of topics. Although it will
not show you individual students’ knowledge, it serves to get a good picture
of what a class as a whole knows. It also gives students a chance to build
on one another’s ideas and correct one another’s misinformation. An
appropriate number of challenging questions are selected (one for each 4-5
students) and one is posted at each location (use whiteboards, poster board,
butcher paper, etc…). Each group gets just a few minutes to respond – if
the group is solving a problem, they just do the first step. If they are
responding to a more open-ended question, they provide as many responses as
they can in the brief time. Then groups move on to the next sheet, review
what the previous group has provided, and add to it. This sequence continues
until everyone has visited every sheet once AND returned to their first one
to review and check for errors.
For more information, go to
Students are organized into an interior and exterior circle (the carousel).
Whatever topic is to be presented, the pairs have only a few minutes…then
the outer circle rotates one (or two or three if you want to keep them on
their toes…) It can be used for any sort of discussion – opinions,
summarizing and review of reading material (especially with students who
read different articles or sections), homework problems, etc…One circle of
students are the providers of information, the other are the receivers;
however, as the pairs change, the receivers are responsible for summarizing
what they learned from their previous partner.
Evaluating Quality of Student Preparation for Tests (and Instructor Composition of Test):
Test Exit Questionnaire:
An exit questionnaire is handed out as students complete and submit a quiz,
test, or exam. Although questions may vary, they usually consist of
something along these lines:
question I wish you had included on this test is… (Briefly explain your choice.)
question I wish you had NOT included on the test was…(Briefly explain your
the test is over, I know I should have studied ___ more.
the test is over, I realize that I do not understand ___ clearly.
the test is over, I am certain I understand ___ very well.