Using Direct Observation to Assess Student Learning

Using Direct Observation to Assess Student Learning
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  • 0:01 Assessing Students
  • 1:00 Defining Direct Observation
  • 2:23 Direct Observations in…
  • 3:33 Steps for Direct Observations
  • 4:21 Direct Observations & Grades
  • 5:41 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde
Teachers use all sorts of methods to determine what students learn. One method is direct observation. This lesson defines the term and explains how it is used in the classroom. Read on for details.

Assessing Students

Effective teachers know they need to keep their eyes on three aspects of instruction: the product, the process, and assessment. In other words, what they teach, how they teach it, and how they know whether or not students learn and understand. They design specific and unique methods of instruction depending on several factors, including student needs and curriculum objectives. They also develop differing assessments, tests, quizzes, observations, and other methods of determining what a student knows.

How do they do this? You probably remember taking tests and quizzes when you were a student and still encounter them today. Whether it's an online quiz to determine insurance eligibility or an end-of-chapter test for a course, assessments are tools to determine understanding of specific criteria. Classroom teachers use several methods to assess students, including one called direct observation. Ever hear of it? Let's take a closer look.

Defining Direct Observation

Teachers use two methods to assess students: formal and informal. Formal assessments, such as paper-pencil tests, standardized tests, and classroom quizzes all have specific criteria to determine student understanding and use data to report results. When a student takes a social studies test, the teacher knows the correct answer for each question and scores the answer right or wrong. The overall grade is then used to determine student understanding.

Informal assessments do not use data and are meant to assess process as well as content. They are typically completed by teachers watching students performing a task, such as reading a book, asking questions, or working on a problem. If a teacher wants to understand what strategies a student is using to decode and comprehend, a running record can be taken, observing the student reading and recording strategies and the results of using them.

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