Student Assessment Strategies (that aren’t tests)
- March 17, 2021
- Posted by: Shannon Amaadar
- Category: Uncategorized
When teaching English as a second language student assessment must be done as you go. Not just at the end of a unit, or midterm tests but throughout the course. If students are falling behind it can become very frustrating for them and you could easily lose their interest.
There are many ways we can assess students’ understanding. The more students there are in a class however, the more difficult it is to monitor how much they know. These 8 strategies I’m going to share with you will help you monitor your class and adjust your lessons to make sure all students are following at the same pace.
Let students tell you themselves
A good place to start is by allowing students to tell you themselves how well they understood the lesson.
There are many applications online like this one where students can log in and give a rating on their comprehension of the lesson. Allowing students to submit assessments online allows them to do it privately.
This can really make a difference with teenage students who might be reluctant to admit they don’t quite get it. You could also take some time at the end of class to discuss the lesson openly and ask students if they want any clarification on the day’s lesson.
This way, students have benefited from a full discussion, and those who are maybe shy to ask can get the answers they’re looking for. It’s also a good way to assess your own delivery of the lesson. If a large portion of the class doesn’t quite understand you can have a look at your method and make adjustments.
Not the boring kind of quiz where everyone fills in a few answers then passes them to the front of the class. That isn’t motivating and your students will begin to dread quiz day.
This is where tech is your friend. Make quizzes motivating and exciting by making it a competition between students. You can divide the class into 2 teams and have them compete against each other on a weekly, monthly or quarterly schedule.
Try out Think exam to make quizzes that students can access online. Each student will complete the quiz individually but with the intention to achieve a high enough score that when added up with their team they can beat out the other team.
You might find students are motivated by the competition and are more willing to pay attention in class and really learn the material in order to perform well for their team.
Sometimes, putting information into another form can help students grasp concepts easier. What may have been a little fuzzy at the beginning can become clearer if the information is used in another way.
Turning vocabulary words into art or song lyrics can help students understand the lesson in a deeper way. Sometimes having a visual element can be helpful. As well, rhythm is a great way to remember new things. Have students write hip hop or country songs using the new vocabulary. The art they come up with will help you assess how much they know and understand.
The best way to learn something is to teach it. Also, the best way to understand something is to have someone explain it in terms that you understand.
For this student assessment technique, you’ll have to establish a classroom atmosphere of acceptance, in order for students to feel comfortable enough to express that they don’t understand, and for other students to be understanding of others’ abilities and limitations. This won’t work in a highly competitive classroom.
At the end of each lesson ask the students to rate on a scale their understanding of the lesson. Then those who aren’t sure they quite get it can be paired up with students who are confident with the material. They then work together for about 10 minutes to clarify the lesson.
Often, when the material is explained by another student it’s done so in a way that allows other students to understand. They can speak at each other’s level and the material becomes easier to understand.
Students are the best judge of their own ability, and given the opportunity, they’ll tell you. Talking to students individually can help immensely, but if you have a large class this student assessment strategy may not be possible.
A good strategy is to designate 3 areas of the class to different levels of understanding. Understood completely, almost got it, and need some help. Close to the end of class ask the students to go to the area of the classroom that best fits their understanding of the material. You’ll be able to see right away who needs a little more help. At this point, you can go over the lesson details with the students who need more help while the students who are confident can help explain it to the ones who almost have it. You’ll find students are acquiring the lessons a lot better and you can assess their progress on an almost daily basis.
You might also like: Classroom Management Strategies
Setting up a chat time with students is a tried-and-true way of student assessment. You can get direct insight into what they know and what they don’t. Once a week plan a day where students will sit with you privately for two minutes and discuss a topic or answer some questions.
You can even take this opportunity to allow students to tell you where they feel they need help. You’ll find better results from your students if they feel comfortable to talk to you about their needs.
Peer group assessment
It’s so important that students know that mistakes are a part of the learning experience. Without mistakes, you can’t improve. Once students are comfortable making mistakes it becomes a lot easier to give and take critical input from their peers.
For this student assessment technique, pair up students and give them a rubric to assess each other with. Students are often more comfortable with their peers and can discuss where they need to improve and how they’re doing well in terms that they understand.
An assignment like this can really get students comfortable with themselves and the language, making learning, not just more fun, but achievable too.
Students love games and friendly competition is a great way to assess students’ abilities in real situations. Pay close attention to who scores the most points, who is more confident and who sits back. You’ll get an idea of who could use more help in understanding.
The best way to assess students is when they don’t feel like they’re being tested. By conducting student assessments frequently you’ll be able to keep on top of students who are falling behind.
Which strategies are you going to use to improve your classroom performance?