Assessment of Instruction

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning participates in university assessment efforts on many levels. For us, assessment is about reflection in action and measuring performance in the service of continual improvement. Assessment is about getting better, not getting by.

One of the easiest ways to accustom yourself to assessment procedures is to reflect periodically on the success of a given class or unit within a class. You do this naturally, of course, by thinking about how it went, but you can do it more systematically by asking your students for quick-take feedback. There is an added benefit here in that you will be able to see if the students “got it” or not. For this you might consider using a “FastFeedback3 (pdf)” or a “Minute Paper3 (pdf).” You might also consider a “critical incident report (pdf).”  If you are technologically inclined, you might consider using clickers in your classroom to regularly test the intellectual temper of the room. If you do these forms of periodic formative assessment practices online, using a list serve or even an email system, you can retain data of student learning over time and this will give you a leg up when it comes time for your annual teaching report. Such data might also prove useful one day for research purposes.

One of the most effective tools to use to improve teaching (and student evaluations) is the Group Instructional Feedback Technique (GIFT). A facilitator asks students:

  • What does your instructor do that helps with your learning?
  • What changes/improvements to the course would promote your learning?
  • What do YOU do that facilitates your learning?
  • What might YOU do to improve your learning?
  • What has been the hardest thing to learn in this course?

To learn more about how to conduct a GIFT, click here.

If you wish to post a mid-semester formative assessment for students that is based on the GIFT, there is now a tutorial about how to do it. Click here to go to the YouTube tutorial and follow the steps for adding the survey questions and activating the survey on Brightspace. If you have any questions you can contact the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at