50 Learning Assessment Techniques: A Quick Reference Guide

Source: Elizabeth Barkley & Claire Major, Learning Assessment Techniques  (Jossey-Bass, 2016). These LAT’s are organized around the six categories of learning in Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning.

LAT Quick Reference

CategoryLATTechniqueBrief Description
Foundational Knowledge1First Day FinalStudents take a non-graded test the first day of the term that consists of questions that are similar to the Final Exam, and then identify the questions they found easiest and those they found most difficult. At the end of the term they take the real, graded Final Exam and the results are used as a reference point to demonstrate learning gains and achievement over time.
2Background Knowledge ProbeBackground Knowledge Probes are simple questionnaires that help you quickly take stock of the level of foundational knowledge and general preparedness that students have along with their level of confidence in their responses before beginning a content unit or learning module.
3Entry and Exit TicketsEntry and exit tickets require students to reflect on a reading assignment, video, lecture, or other and then write a brief response to a question on an index card that is designed to gather information about their understanding of core facts, terms, concepts and ideas.
4Guided Reading NotesStudents receive a copy of notes that summarize content from an upcoming assigned reading, but that includes blanks. As students read, they provide the missing content into the blanks to create a complete set of notes that may be used as a study guide.
5Comprehensive Factors List Students recall and list as many relevant factors that they can relate to a topic that they have encountered through a reading assignment, lecture, illustration, performance, or other course experience.
6Quick WriteA Quick Write is an activity in which learners write a response in a brief amount of time to an open-ended prompt posed by the teacher.
7Best Summary Students individually prepare summaries of the main points at the end of a given unit of content, lecture, reading assignment, or other, and then work in groups to compare, evaluate, and select the “best” summary.
8Snap ShotsThe instructor presents questions during class along with several possible answers. Individual students choose which answer they think is correct and the instructor makes a quick visual assessment of class results. Students then discuss answers with neighbor(s), after which they together choose answer again and the instructor makes another assessment and compares results.
9Team TestsStudents work in teams to prepare for instructor-created exams and then take the exams first individually and next as a group. This LAT thus proceeds in three steps: 1) group members study for a test together, 2) individuals take the test, and 3) the group takes the test.
10Team Games Tournament In this team games activity, home teams work together to learn content and then compete against tournament teams.
Application11Prediction GuideStudents are presented with a series of questions that ask them to make predictions prior to a learning activity and then, after the learning activity, they revisit their predictions to evaluate accuracy and correct potential misconceptions.
12Fact or OpinionStudents first read a text to identify and list facts. They then re-read the text to look for where the author either overtly or covertly inserts opinion, and make a new list as they carefully consider the evidence and resist being taken in by the text’s rhetorical force.
13Quotation Commentaries Students receive a handout with set of quotations from a recent reading assignment and then comment on them, following a specific process: paraphrase, interpret, and comment.
14Insights-Resources-Applications (IRAs)In conjunction with an assigned reading, students complete a written assignment that includes three components: new perceptions or understandings (Insights), resources they have found that amplify the reading’s themes or information (Resources), and an example from the students’ personal experience that relates to the reading (Application).
15Consider ThisStudents are given a theory or concept that they have been taught (for example, thesis statements, the scientific method, or push-pull factors) and are challenged to figure out a way to apply it in a new and different context.
16What’s the Problem?Students look at examples of common problem types in order to identify the particular type of problem each example represents.
17Think-Aloud Problem Solving Protocols Student pairs receive a set of problems to solve as well as specific roles––problem solver and listener––that they switch as they move from problem to problem.
18Peer Problem ReviewIn Peer Problem Review, students each receive a problem, try to solve it, and then pass the problem and solution to a nearby student. The student who receives the problem and response analyzes and evaluates the solution.
19Triple Jump This three-step technique requires students to think through a real-world problem presented in a case-based scenario: 1) to articulate a plan for solving it, 2) to gather resources, and 3) to attempt to provide a viable solution to it.
20Digital ProjectsStudents create projects that enhance and document their learning of an important topic concept in the field. Digital Media Projects may include collages, photo albums, videos, infographics, web sites, blogs, podcasts, book trailers, or other.
Integration21Knowledge GridStudents demonstrate analytical and organizational skills by filling in the internal cells of a grid in which the first column and top row provide key categories.
22Sequence ChainsStudents analyze and depict graphically a sequence of events, actions, roles, or decisions. Sequence Chains require students to create a visual map of the logic within a series.
23Concept MapsStudents draw a diagram that conveys their ideas about or understanding of a complex concept, procedure, or process they have studied. The diagram is intended to suggest relationships between ideas, which it does in the form of a network in which boxes or circles represent ideas and in which the lines between the ideas represent connections.
24Contemporary Issues JournalStudents look for recent events or developments in the real world that are related to their coursework readings and assignments, then analyze these current affairs to identify the connections to course material in entries that they write in a journal.
25Dyadic EssayStudents individually write an essay question and model answer on a reading assignment, lecture, or other. Pairs exchange questions, write responses to each other’s questions, and then compare the model with their own. The students next discuss their responses and in a final step, complete a peer evaluation of each other’s performance.
26Synthesis PaperInstead of responding to or reviewing a single reading assignment, students consider several readings together, work to draw commonalities from them, and then write about readings in a formal paper.
27Case StudyStudents receive a real-life scenario, or “case,” related to course content. These cases usually present a brief history of how the situation developed and a dilemma that a key character within the scenario is facing, and students are charged with helping the character develop a solution to the problem.
28Class BookIndividual students submit a scholarly essay or research paper that they believe represents their highest quality work from the course, and then all students’ best papers are published together in a Class Book.
29E-PortfoliosStudents assemble examples of work that they have created throughout the semester during various assignments, and they supplement this digitized collection of examples with commentary about their significance.
Human Dimension30Free DiscussionSmall groups of students are formed quickly and extemporaneously to respond to course-related questions. Their discussion is an informal exchange of ideas, but students are assessed on their ability to participate effectively.
31NominationsStudents learn about an important award relevant to the field of study, for example someone in economics might learn about the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, including what makes someone qualified for nomination. They then research outstanding individuals in the field, select one for nomination, and write a short profile page of the individual, indicating why he or she should be considered for the award.
32Editorial ReviewStudents assume roles as editors who must evaluate a set of works to select which ones to include in an upcoming publication, and then write to the authors with a decision and rationale about whether their work merits inclusion in the publication.
33Dramatic DialoguesStudents create a dialogue based on an imagined discussion of a problem or issue between two different characters, imaginary or real, past or present.
34Role PlayA Role Play is a created situation in which students deliberately act out or assume characters or identities they would not normally assume in order to accomplish learning goals. Students often research their roles through independent study, but instructors may also provide specific assignments, such as readings, to serve as source material for the play.
35Ethical DilemmaStudents are presented with an ethics-based, discipline-related scenario in which someone must choose a course of action between two or more difficult alternatives. Students write an essay response to the case in which they proceed through a sequence of prescribed steps that conclude with their choice of the most ethical decision.
36Digital StoryDigital storytelling at its most fundamental level is the practice of using computer-based tools, such as video, audio, graphics, and Web publishing, to tell stories. The stories may be personal or academic, but for either focus, students share relevant life experiences as they attempt to connect to an audience about a given issue.
Caring37Stand Where You StandStudents read assignments with opposing opinions on a controversial issue. Then, after the teacher presents a statement that reflects one of the sides, students individually decide whether and how much they agree or disagree. They then go stand in front of one of four room corner signs to signal their positions, take turns presenting their rationales, and move to another sign if the arguments they hear persuade them to change their minds.
38Three-Minute MessageModeled on the Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) academic competition, students have three minutes to present a compelling argument and to support it with convincing details and examples.
39Issue Awareness AdStudents identify and analyze a problematic situation in the local community. They then write and deliver a speech that persuades others of the urgency of the problem and offers strategies for solving the problem.
40ProclamationsStudents identify and analyze a problematic situation in the local community. They then write and deliver a speech that persuades others of the urgency of the problem and offers strategies for solving the problem.
41EditorialIn this adaptation of the classic newspaper editorial essay, the instructor guides students through the process of writing an editorial on a topic that interests them.
42DebateIn a debate, students research and analyze a controversial topic and then engage in a series of oral presentations of their arguments against an opposing team.
43Briefing PaperStudents select a current problem, and they research it through independent or group study. They next prepare a summary of the main issues involved and outline proposed solutions, which they then evaluate for strengths and weaknesses. In their papers, students often make a call to action.
Learn How to Learn44Study OutlinesStudy Outlines provide students with a structure to synthesize and organize course information in meaningful, useful ways so that they can prepare for tests.
45Student Generated RubricTeachers provide students with examples of outstanding disciplinary-based products such as an essay, research paper, musical composition, mathematical proof, or scientific lab report, which students analyze to determine the common characteristics and develop assessment rubrics. They then apply the rubric to test rubric viability.
46Invent the QuizStudents write a limited number of test questions related to a recent learning module and then create an answer sheet, or alternately a model answer and scoring sheet, to accompany the test questions.
47Learning Goal ListingStudents generate and prioritize a list of their learning goals at the beginning of the academic term, a unit of study, or a specific learning activity. If time permits, students can estimate the relative difficulty of achieving these learning goals.
48What? So What? Now What? JournalStudents write journal entries to reflect on their recent course-related activities or experiences. The questions that comprise the name of this LAT provide students with a structure for critical analysis during these reflections, prompting students to respond to the main questions and relevant sub questions.
49Multiple-Task Mastery ChecklistMultiple-task Mastery Checklist provides a structured format for carrying out a multi-stage formative assessment of a formal project. It involves identifying the sequence of project activities and ensuring that students master each one in the series prior to moving forward to the next one.
50Personal Learning EnvironmentA Personal Learning Environment is a set of people and digital resources an individual can access for the specific intent of learning. Students illustrate these potential connections through the creation of visible network of the set. Nodes represent the resources, and ties suggest the relationship between the sources. A PLE then is a visual representation of a learner’s informal learning processes and a concrete demonstration of an individual’s capacity for future learning.

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