As an educator, our goal is to help our students learn better. We consolidate relevant knowledge, contextualize it to real world settings and come up with the best assessment questions / ideas in an attempt to help them pick up new skills that can later be applied in practice.

But how do we know if our students’ assessment strategies are effective?

Organisations set Goals, KPIs to help their staff measure their performance, and the staff themselves finding SMART ways to show tangible outcomes. Similarly, educators can also employ some tools to help measure the impact /outcomes of their teaching strategies. In particular, students’ assessments.

,Peter Drucker” by unknown author taken from Google free images.

From the myriad of options available (e.g. assignments, diagnostic tests, rubrics, student-generated questions, and surveys) how many are you using? More importantly, how do you know how well you are using each tool effectively?

CIT’s Mark Gan recently wrote a nice concise article that summarizes how each of these sources of evidence can be documented to help you measure the effectiveness of your teaching practices. Worth your time to check it out.

My key takeaways from his article:

  1. Using authentic assessment tasks – allow students to up-the-ante and solve real world problems. Be it a poster presentation or Capstone project, nothing beats solving real world problems. #authentic-learning
  2. Letting students design their own rubrics – I was at the receiving end of this strategy while doing my post grad (2003) at USU. My then faculty Prof Mimi Recker challenged my classmates to co-create our own assessment criteria, inclusive of rubric for presentation, online participation (discussion boards), and peer evaluation. #empowerment
  3. Adapting lessons based on regular feedback – be it through surveys or polls, there are now so many easy ways for instructors to elicit feedback from learners to gauge level of understanding and adjust pace of lessons accordingly. It brought back fond memories of how I worked with Prof Tham KY to use simple surveys (as early as back in 2008), to gauge her medical students’ knowledge during class and adjust her teaching on-the-fly. #polling

New technology and strategies are always emerging but some classic strategies will continue to be relevant. I am most fortunate to have benefited from my teachers who employed these strategies in their teaching, and am privileged to now be able to do the same for students, faculty at NUS.

Benedict Chia

09 July 2022

We can’t improve what we can’t measure