Teaching Tips: Classroom Assessment

Increasing emphasis is being placed on assessment, and many faculty are looking for evaluation practices that extend beyond giving a mid-term and final exam. In particular the concept of non-graded classroom assessment is gaining traction. In their book Classroom Assessment Techniques, Thomas Angelo and Patricia Cross (Jossey-Bass, 1993) stress the importance of student evaluation that is “learner-centered, teacher-directed, mutually beneficial, formative, context-specific, ongoing, and firmly rooted in good practice.”

Students in a classroom.

While the authors describe in detail numerous techniques for ascertaining in a timely manner whether or not students are learning what is being taught, here are several quick and easy to implement methods:


The Minute Paper: At an appropriate break, ask students to answer on paper a specific question pertaining to what has just been taught. After a minute or two, collect the papers for review after class, or, to promote class interaction, ask students to pair off and discuss their responses. After a few minutes, call on a few students to report their answers and results of discussion. If papers are turned in, there is value to both the anonymous and the signed approach. Grading, however, is not the point; this is a way to gather information about the effectiveness of teaching and learning.

In Class Survey: Think of this as a short, non-graded pop quiz. Pass out a prepared set of questions, or have students provide answers on their own paper to questions on a PowerPoint/Keynote slide. Focus on a few key concepts. Again, the idea is to assess whether students understand what is being taught.

Exit Ticket: Select one of the following items and near the end of class ask your students to write on a sheet of paper 1) a question they have that didn’t get answered, 2) a concept or problem that they didn’t understand, 3) a bullet list of the major points covered in class, or 4) a specific question to access their learning. Students must hand in the paper to exit class. Allow anonymous response so that students will answer honestly. If you do this regularly, you may want to put the exit ticket question on your final PowerPoint/Keynote slide.

Tools that can help with assessment

Classroom polling devices (a.k.a. clickers) offer an excellent means of obtaining evidence of student learning. See http://www.cer.jhu.edu/clickers.html for information about the in-class voting system used at JHU. Faculty who are interested in learning more should contact Brian Cole in the CER.

Faculty at the JHU School of Nursing have been piloting an online application called Course Canary to obtain student assessment data. Formative course evaluation surveys allow faculty to collect student feedback quickly and anonymously. A free account is available (offering two online surveys and two exit ticket surveys) at: https://coursecanary.com/.

Macie Hall, Senior Instructional Designer
Center for Educational Resources

Image source: Microsoft Clip Art


Welcome to The Innovative Instructor

After the Provost’s Gateway Sciences Initiative Symposium on Teaching Excellence in January 2012, faculty expressed interest in having an online space where ideas about innovative teaching could be collected and archived. As a resource for those teaching in any discipline, The Innovative Instructor blog will offer a variety of ideas about teaching excellence, instructional technology, and teaching as research.

The Innovative Instructor blog builds on a successful print series of the same name, which focuses on Pedagogy, Best Practices, and Technology. Blog posts will cover topics such as active learning, assessment, use of case studies in instruction, classroom management, instructional design, how to engage students, grading and feedback, collaborative learning, leading discussions, hybrid instruction, and teaching methods.

While initial posts will be written by staff members in the Center for Educational Resources (CER) and other Johns Hopkins teaching and learning centers, faculty, post docs, and graduate and undergraduate students are invited to serve as guest editors. If you have a teaching-related topic that you would like to share, please contact Macie Hall at macie.hall@jhu.edu. Or contact her if you have an issue or subject you’d like to see covered in a future post.

The CER is just one of the teaching support centers at Johns Hopkins University. Find a complete list under the Contact tab. The CER provides a variety of services for faculty in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and the Whiting School of Engineering. CER staff members meet with instructors to discuss digital course enhancements, manage the Technology Fellowship Program, collaborate with faculty on grant projects, and offer structured opportunities for faculty to learn about cutting edge educational innovations. The CER is also the home for the TA Training Institute and the institutional affiliation with the Center for Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL). We offer a number of opportunities to prepare future faculty for teaching.

Whether you are faculty, future faculty, student, or staff interested in pedagogy, teaching with technology, or educational best practices, welcome to The Innovative Instructor.