Using Direct Observation to Assess Student Learning

Using Direct Observation to Assess Student Learning
Coming up next: How to Assess Student Learning with Presentations

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 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
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up


Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

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.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account