General Assessments

General Characteristics

  • Provides practice and feedback that will improve student learning (formative assessments)
  • Focuses on particular aspects of a course/unit
  • Assesses class understanding (rather than individual)

Examples of questions to be addressed with course assessment:

  • Did students understand the main points of the reading/lecture?
  • How well do learners understand the extent of their comprehension (metacognition)?
  • Can learners apply new knowledge/skills/attitudes towards solving problems?


Name Description
Minute Paper During the last few minutes before a break, ask students to take out a half-sheet of paper and answer the following questions. 1) "What is the most important point you learned today?" 2) "What point remains least clear to you?" This CAT is used to get a sense of how well students comprehended a particular class unit/lesson.
Chain Notes Write a question about a particular topic covered in class or in a reading on an envelop and pass the envelope around class. As the envelope reaches a student, he/she spends a moment to respond to the question and then places the response in the envelope. Responses can be quickly interpreted during a break and issues/responses can be addressed in class. 
Memory Matrix Students fill in cells of a two-dimensional diagram for which instructor has provided labels. For example, in a music course, labels might consist of periods (Baroque, Classical) by countries (Germany, France, Britain); students enter composers in cells to demonstrate their ability to remember and classify key concepts. Categories could also consist simply of high or low risk by high or low importance.
Directed Paraphrasing Ask students to write something they have just learned for a lay audience in order to assess their ability to comprehend and translate concepts into their own words.
One-sentence Summary Students summarize knowledge of a topic by constructing a single sentence that answers the questions "Who, what, when, where, how, and why?" The purpose is to require students to select only the defining features of a topic.
Exam Evaluations  Select a type of test that you are likely to give more than once or that has a significant impact on student performance. Create a few questions that evaluate the quality of the test. Add these questions to the exam or administer a separate, follow-up evaluation.
Application Cards After teaching about an important theory, principle, or procedure, ask students to write down at least one real-world application for what they have just learned inn order to determine how well they can transfer their learning.
Student-generated Test Questions Allow students to write test questions and model answers for specified topics in a format consistent with curriculum exams. This will give students the opportunity to evaluate the curriculum topics, reflect on what they understand, and demonstrate they understand key concepts.
Reflections Students will write reflections based on the information or skills presented in class/readings in less than 250 words. Questions for students to think about include: 1) What was the most surprising thing you learned? 2) What did you already know? 3) What was the most important thing you learned? 4) How does this information relate to your prior knowledge or experiences? The purpose is to help students process and internalize the information. Reflections can also be used to improve content delivery for future iterations of the class. 
Concept Maps Have students create graphic representations of their knowledge. This can be done before and/or after a concept is covered. If using a pre-concept map, have students also reflect on how the curriculum content changed their understanding post-lesson.
Walk and Talks These activities can be completed in multiple ways. 1) Have students take a walk and record their thoughts about a topic. 2) Take students out on a walking lecture on campus. 3) Have students take a walk individually and listen to a pre-recorded podcast. After one of these walking activities, students should reflect on the concepts covered during the lecture/podcast. 
Best Awards Assign a student or a group of students to determine the best (argument, question, etc.) of a discussion. These awards can be tied to classroom points. 
Random Extra Questions Every student has to answer an extra question at some point in the semester. Questions are usually tied to points; students should be prepared to have their turn at any point during the semester.

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