ProTip Wednesday: 5 Ways to Assess Student Understanding

how to assess student learning

We’ve all been there—you just gave a test and after receiving the results, you bury your head in your hands and ask yourself the big question: “Why didn’t they get it?”

teacher exit tickets

The “Getting It” process (also known as learning/achieving/mastering) is a teacher’s main goal —in addition to the other ten thousand other skills you want your little human beings to accomplish. In tune with our theme of assessment, our ProTip for Wednesday will be ways to assess your students.

Teachers have the innate ability to know every single facet of our students and if they “get it” or not, just by looking at them. But sometimes, we have to set up some check points before the Big Test to make sure that we’re 100% right and they’re each receiving the help they need before the Big Test.

Ask students to use the skill, rule or concept in a new context

Project-based learning or authentic assessment is one way to ask students to apply a recently taught skill as well as other nuanced skills like speech or writing. This teacher decided to have their middle school statistics class apply knowledge of data analysis and graphical representations through a relationship between life expectancy and water quality. (via Authentic Assessment Toolbox)

project based learning


2. Check-for-understanding questions

So now we know it’s not just about the Big Test, but it’s also not just about the Exit Ticket or quiz. Check-for-understanding (CFU) questions are tremendously important to informally assessing your students in the middle of a lesson, which can give you the redirection you need. These questions go beyond the typical, “Do we have any questions?” or “Put your thumbs up if you get it, and thumbs down if you do not.” You’re looking to answer the “why” and not the “what.” Here are some great questions to start with: (via the Christina School District)

  • How does __________ related to __________?
  • What can you infer from __________?
  • What evidence supports __________?
  • Can you tell me more?
  • Give your reasons

assess student learning

More importantly, it is important to prepare these questions beforehand and have integrate into your lesson plan. Planning ahead, according to this Edutopia article, allows more freedom and flexibility in interesting questions, rather than falling back on the same strategies.


3. Game-based learning

I used this strategy usually during final exam review time, as it was useful to have students confer with each other and then to come to a consensus answer. Download a blank How to Be a Millionaire template from my personal files! [Free download!]

game based learning


4. Self-assessment:

How can you get an accurate pulse of the comfort level of students? Self-assessment allows you to do an informal survey on how students are feeling on new concepts. Ginger Snaps did the above consensogram to gauge how well students understood landforms and oceans. She did this strategy at the beginning and end of any unit; this is also a great multi-tasking strategy to teach graphing. (via Ginger Snaps)

student self assessment example


Another self-assessment strategy is to build a tool similar to a traffic light. With this example from A Teacher’s Wonderland, she used the scale from 1-4, novice to expert with explanations on the back side. (via A Teacher’s Wonderland)

student self assessment example



5. Exit tickets and do nows

exit ticket example

Formative Assessment sounds scary and nebulous, but you’ve been doing exit tickets, do nows, and the entire list thus far already! You’re a rock star assessor—but you already knew that.

exit ticket exampleOne strategy is to create a template that students will routinely see on a daily basis. This exit ticket allows students to 1) self-assess their mastery, complete an “I can…” statement, and provide evidence of their learning through an example.

exit ticket template

exit ticket template

Another strategy is a spin on the normal exit ticket that asks for comprehension of a skill. In this case, you’d still be asking a question similar to the bottom picture, but students may answer it on their exit “ticket.” A clever way to save paper is to laminate the tickets and use as a white board.  (Via Inclusive Ed Wiki)

Looking to learn more?

Here are 27 tips on how to assess

how to assess student learning

Or check out our Pinterest board on Exit Tickets

exit ticket examples

Psst… Gradeable allows you to build in self-assessment survey questions in conjunction with exit tickets and do nows. It’s easy to start and allows for the functionality of including surveys, multiple choice questions, and short answer questions all on one exit ticket.

exit ticket online

Get started with Gradeable and start assessing like a rock star!


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