Classroom Assessment Defined
When performing classroom assessment, the cycle of plan, do, respond is imperative. Consider the following:
Assessment can be done one of two ways: formative or summative. Formative assessment involves gathering data for improving student learning, whereas summative assessment uses data to assess how much a student knows or has retained at the completion of a learning sequence (American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, & the National Council on Measurement in Education [AERA, APA & NCME], 2014).
Formative assessment has been defined as “activities undertaken by teachers—and by their students in assessing themselves—that provide information to be used as feedback to modify teaching and learning activities” (Black & Wiliam, 2010, p. 82)
Formative assessments occur in two primary forms: spontaneous and planned (Cook, 2009). Spontaneous formative assessments are impromptu, such as (a) when a teacher reads misunderstanding in the body language of students during a class session and queries the student about her understanding, (b) when a teacher calls on a student to provide an example of a concept just covered, or (c) when question-and-answer sessions are conducted during a lesson. Planned formative assessments include activities such as quizzes and homework exercises that are assigned to assess student progress.
Summative assessments are “cumulative assessments . . . that intend to capture what a student has learned, or the quality of the learning, and judge performance against some standards” (National Research Council, p. 25). Unlike formative assessments, which are generally used for providing feedback to students and teachers, summative assessments are generally high-stakes assessments and used to get a final assessment of how much learning has taken place—that is, how much does a student know (Gardner, 2010).
Formative and Summative Comparison Chart (Google Doc, make a copy to reuse)
General Best Practices
One-Shot Best Practices
|Preconception Check||Assess Prior Knowledge, Recall, and Understanding||
Administer prior to or at the beginning of a library session.
Ask students to share ideas and beliefs about upcoming material. The preconception check can take several forms (true/false, multiple-choice, short-answer).
|Information Creation as a Process Preconception Check||
Address issues of common ground/misconceptions as evident in the Preconception Check.Use common ground/misconceptions to garner class discussions and to explore gaps in their knowledge and reinforce concepts they already know.
|Assess Prior Knowledge, Recall, and Understanding||During the last few minutes of class, ask students to answer on a half-sheet of paper: "What is the most important point you learned today, and what point remains least clear to you?".||Minute Paper Prompts||
Emphasize the issues illuminated by your students' comments during the next class.
Administer the minute paper midway through a library session. While students are working on a task, read the minute papers and respond to questions before class ends.
|The Muddiest Point||Assess Prior Knowledge, Recall, and Understanding||
Ask students at the end of a library session to reply to this question: "What was the muddiest point in _____________?".
Use sparingly, as asking for negative feedback too many times can be discouraging to students and librarians.
|N/A||Follow up with the class and attempt to clarify muddy points, either via e-mail or by creating and sharing a LibGuide.|
|Categorizing Grid||Assess Analysis and Critical Thinking||
Present students with a table of two-three categories. Give students a scrambled list of items and ask then to sort the items in the correct categories.
Adapt to have students categorize physical objects, such as physical publications.
|Analyze the grids for patterns in incorrect responses. Provide feedback to the large group through email, LibGuide, online video, or a follow-up library session.|
|Content, Form, and Function Outline||Assess Analysis and Critical Thinking||Ask students to analyze the what, how, and why of a message.
Apply to a critical reading or a nontextual message, such as a database.
Analysis should focus on...
|Pro and Con Grid||Assess Analysis and Critical Thinking||
Pro and Con Grids assess the evaluation skills of students.
Change the grid to costs/benefits or advantages/disadvantages.
Ask students to complete the grid from multiple perspectives.
Discuss in class.
Share results with students.
If possible, present a chart or other visual with their resutls.
|One-Sentence Summary||Assess Synthesis and Critical Thinking||
Students write a one-sentence response to a question about a new concept. Their answer should summarize who does what to whom, where, when, why, and how.
Tell students at the beginning of a library session what they should learn and how they will be asked to demonstrate it.
|Revisit the topic with the class through email, LibGuide, tutorial, follow-up assignment, or another session.|
|Directed Paraphrasing||Assess Application||
Ask students to paraphrase a key idea for a specific audience.
This CATS is especially useful when working with pre-professional students, "who will likely have to explain complicated or specialized concepts to a particular audience throughout their careers" (Bowles-Terry and Kvenild, 60).
|Provide individual feedback; therefore, this CAT is most appropriate for a librarian-taught or embedded course.|
Students list what they have learned, questions they still have, and how they will apply the new information.
Design a follow-up via email, another class, video, or LibGuide.
Share with students the "most interesting or intriguing" responses about how students will use the information they have learned.
Adapted from University Teaching and Learning Center. "Classroom Assessment Techniques." The George Washington University. https://library.gwu.edu/utlc/teaching/classroom-assessment-techniques-cats.
Modified examples from Bowles-Terry, Melissa and Cassandra Kvenild. Classroom Assessment Techniques for Librarians. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2015.
Miller, Sara. "Classroom Assessment Techniques: CAT Basics and Tools for Librarians." Michigan State University Libraries. 2013. https://libguides.lib.msu.edu/c.php?g=96988&p=627320.
Grant Wiggins in his book Educative Assessment defines rubrics as:
A set of scoring guidelines for evaluating students’ work. Rubrics answer the following questions: By what criteria should performance be judged? Where should we look and what should we look for to judge performance success? What does the range in the quality of performance look like? How do we determine validity, reliability, and fairly what score should be given and what that score means? How should the different levels of quality be described and distinguished from one another?
In developing a rubric, it is important to select the specific work to assess. The first example (Rubric: Worksheet) provides a scoring guideline for a research worksheet completed during the library instruction session. The second example (Synthesis Rubric) is a rubric of a research paper completed after the instruction session.