Post-Assessment Activities

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Regardless of the specific content you are teaching, it is important to have some strategies that help you assess students' learning. These activities are designed to be used in assessments at the end of a unit.

Why Post-Assessment Matters

As teachers, we often hear about the importance of assessment. Often, we think of assessment as something that can inform our instruction. By assessing students, we learn about what they know and do not know and find starting points for our curriculum.

At the same time, assessment is also something that can happen subsequent to teaching. This kind of assessment, usually known as a post-assessment, should serve two purposes:

  • Post-assessments help us evaluate our own teaching, looking for trends in what we did and did not communicate well to our students.
  • Post-assessments help us target students who will need to review material before they are able to take on new courses of study.

Of course, we also sometimes use post-assessments to help us evaluate students for report cards or parent teacher conferences, depending on the specifics of our circumstances.

The activities in this lesson are general post-assessment activities that can be customized to meet the needs of different groups of students and the specifics of different subject areas.

Post-Assessment Activities

Group Discussion

Never forget that a simple class discussion can provide a wonderful opportunity to assess what students have learned in a particular unit. Discussions can be especially useful assessment tools in reading, language arts, and social studies, but sometimes they also work in science, too.

Tell your students that you are having a group discussion, and that you as a teacher will not participate in this discussion. On the board, write three or four questions to frame the discussion; questions should be conceptual, open-ended, and written for you to get a sense of what students know and understand. Then, set the following ground rules:

  • Students should monitor their participation in the discussion and should not talk more than their fair share.
  • The discussion should stay focused on the questions on the board.
  • Students should respond to one another and indicate that they are actively listening.

As students carry on the discussion, take notes on what they are saying. Make note of who seems to understand the material well and who might not grasp it as fluidly.

Writing Prompts

Another great way to assess students at the end of a unit is to give them a writing prompt. When you read students' writing, you will be able to get a clear sense of what they do and do not understand. You should decide in advance whether you will be evaluating your students' writing mechanics or only the content of what they write.

Then, give students a prompt or set of prompts that relate to the major understandings of the unit. Set clear expectations for how much time they have to complete their writing, how much you want them to write, and what you hope their writing shows.

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