Evaluating student learning allows teachers to see how well students are meeting the course objectives. Evaluation takes many different forms. Formative assessments include low-stakes, frequent check-ins such as journals, discussion posts, in-class writing, group work, quizzes, essay drafts, peer reviews, polls and student reflections. They can be graded or ungraded. Summative assessments are higher-stakes assignments such as tests, essays, projects, performances and final exams. For more about formative and summative assessments, including examples and resources, see this guide from Yale University.
Contract grading is a way to promote student effort and motivation. Rather than a top-down approach, where the instructor sets all criteria and standards, grading contracts allow students more agency over their grades.
Rubrics provide clear criteria and standards for assignments. They help students understand how they will be graded and what they need to do to succeed in the course. Rubrics can be used for both formative and summative assessments.
Student reflection promotes metacognition, in which students think about their learning. Asking students to regularly set goals and reflect on their learning can increase their engagement with the course and build habits that will serve them beyond the classroom. “The Habits of Mind” and “Framework for Success” are useful starting points.
Reflecting on and assessing teaching can also help teachers become more effective educators. Teachers can use peer observations, student surveys and evaluations, and consultations with other educators to learn more about their teaching. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) provides evidence-based knowledge to support quality teaching. Teaching statements, teaching philosophies and other materials should become part of a teacher’s portfolio.