Before you can make any changes, you need to gain insight on your teaching. Asking students to provide feedback and engaging them in the assessment process lets them know that you respect their thoughts and value their contributions, and they may find it empowering and enjoyable. Students are able to see research in action and gain an appreciation for how it informs practice.
The following are some specific strategies for gaining feedback from your students, adapted from Classroom Assessment Techniques by Thomas Angelo and Patricia Cross (1993).
- The Minute Paper
The minute paper is a short exercise in which you ask students to write for one minute on two questions: What was the most important thing you learned today?; and, what question still remains in your mind after today's class?
- The Muddiest Point
This assessment method is similar to the minute paper. Students write a one-minute essay on the muddiest point that remains in their minds after a lecture, demonstration, or presentation.
- The One-Sentence Summary
In this method, students write and then discuss a one-sentence summary that describes the content covered in class.
- Directed Paraphrasing
In directed paraphrasing, students summarize a concept or procedure in two or three sentences.
- Applications Cards
Here, the instructor asks students to think of real-world applications of topics discussed in class.
When using these strategies in class, make sure you tell your students that you are not grading the responses, but trying to get a feel for their understanding. Asking students to reply anonymously may help dispel any anxiety. After you have collected the responses, read them carefully. If you don't have time to closely analyze responses, at least do a quick tally to see if the same muddy points or questions keep coming up. Or sort responses into piles that represent students who seem to get it and those who don't. Share what you've learned with students, and change what you do in class accordingly.