Assessing Student Learning

Assessing Student Learning

We work with instructors to design custom learning assessments that help them gain feedback about what their students are learning. These learning assessments include informal, non–graded strategies such as Classroom Assessment Techniques, as well as more formal assessments of students’ success in achieving course goals and learning outcomes.

In addition to helping individual instructors assess learning and gather feedback, CITL consultants can also work with departments or schools on programmatic assessment—identifying programmatic learning outcomes for students, aligning individual courses to these goals, and developing methods of determining how well students are meeting the goals.

Contact CITL to meet with a consultant to design effective informal or formal assessments in an individual course, or to discuss programmatic assessment issues.

Informal Assessment

Among the most widely used informal assessments are Classroom Assessment Techniques, or CATs. These techniques are simple, non–graded, anonymous, in–class activities that give both you and your students useful feedback on the teaching–learning process. Another informal assessment strategy involves the use of classroom response systems or clickers, which can give both you and your students feedback about how well students understand specific course concepts. For information about other informal assessment techniques, see the CITL resource in Teaching Handbook on assessing student progress over time. For help implementing these or other informal assessment techniques, contact CITL to meet with a consultant.

Formal Assessment

Formal assessment involves the traditional assignments (such as exams and papers) that instructors often use to derive a grade for a student. CITL consultants can help you choose and design effective formal assessments in a variety of teaching contexts.

Constructing Objective Tests

CITL consultants can assist you with designing, evaluating, and revising objective tests to best measure student learning.  We offer a wide range of testing assistance, including designing new tests, refining those currently in use, or finding alternatives to tests, for instructors teaching in any context (e.g., lecture, discussion, labs). Depending on your needs, this assistance may include a consultant from Bloomington Evaluation Services & Testing (BEST). CITL provides a resource on test construction (you can find more information about test construction in Teaching handbook); BEST also offers assistance with testing.

Assessing Writing

Our Writing Program consults on the use of writing in classes, including the design of effective assignments and the training of AIs or graders to ensure that they grade writing assignments fairly and effectively.

Alternatives to Traditional Assessments

CITL consultants can provide guidance and suggestions on a wide variety of alternatives to traditional exams and papers. We can help you develop an authentic assessment: one that asks students to “do” the subject, that is realistic, that involves a messy, real-world problem, and that requires a student to use a repertoire of knowledge and skills to address. CITL consultants can also help you devise strategies, such as the use of a rubric, to facilitate the grading of these assessments.

Assessing Group Work

Students working as a team to complete a project can accomplish many positive learning outcomes: they set goals, identify roles and tasks, provide constructive feedback, assess their own understanding, and learn deeply by teaching others. Assessing group work can be difficult, however, and requires careful planning. CITL consultants can work with instructors to make the process of grading group work or group projects fairer and more effective.

Using Course Assignments to Assess Programmatic Goals

If your department or program has established goals for student learning, you can use assignments in your course in programmatic assessment efforts. In this assessment process, called course-embedded assessment, students’ work responding to assignments in particular courses is used as evidence to show how well students are achieving programmatic goals. CITL consultants can provide support and guidance in this process; see the CITL page on programmatic assessment for more information.

Examples of Innovative Assessment Strategies

To see some examples of innovative and effective assessment strategies, see the CITL faculty spotlight articles on Kasey RamirezBen Motz, and Sarah Smith-Robbins.