Understanding Assessment as a Tool for Learning: Recent Workshop Yields Practices and Tools for Quality Learning Assessment

“Goal-directed practice coupled with targeted feedback enhances the quality of students’ learning,” said Barbara Millis, assessment expert and executive editor for “College Teaching,” during a workshop she facilitated for Valencia faculty on Thursday, January 19 and Friday, January 20, 2017.

Throughout the workshop, she offered insights and tools to enhance Valencia faculty’s understanding and application of assessment as a tool for learning, which is one of the Essential Competencies of a Valencia Educator.

To learn how to align the goal-directed practice and targeted feedback that Barbara emphasized, 45 workshop participants practiced the backward design process, in which instructors first identify the student-learning outcome before determining the appropriate summative assessments (end-point measures) for assessing student learning.

As Barbara explained, this practice better enables faculty to determine what teaching/learning activities and formative assessments (low-stakes along-the-way assessments) will help students achieve desired learning outcomes.

Faculty also took on instructor and student roles as they were introduced to (and engaged in) structured active learning and engagement strategies that can be applied to any classroom or discipline. Faculty tried out a three-step interview, rapid report-out methods and easy team member role-assigning strategies. They also experienced several formative classroom assessment techniques that they could implement in their next class, including a background knowledge probe, fingers in the air, focused listing metacognition checks, directed paraphrasing, visible quizzes and clicker-type feedback (through technology such as Kahoot or through low-tech methods).

Faculty reacted enthusiastically to the assessment strategies they experienced.

One participant said, “As a new instructor, all of this information was incredibly helpful.” Another reflected, “I have learned many more ways to connect the students and the material.”

The workshop was sponsored by the Teaching/Learning Academy and was open to all Valencia faculty and staff.

Click here to learn more about assessment, and click here to learn about other Valencia educator essential competencies.

You can also register for upcoming assessment-focused faculty development opportunities in the Valencia EDGE. Simply search for the course prefix ASMT to review assessment-related courses. For more instructions on registering for faculty development courses via the Valencia EDGE, click here.

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