Formative Assessment

An important part of teaching is the regular process of gathering information and feedback on your students' learning as the semester is in progress, which we call Formative Assessment--ie, collecting data that informs your practice while there is opportunity to improve  student learning.  Formative assessment is generally not graded and is conducted as a means of giving you, the instructor, immediate feedback on whether your students have learned the material or how they are learning or what can improve their learning.  We can do this many ways, but some of the most common methods include the mid-semester online student surveys, student focus groups, classroom assessment techniques (CATs), etc. 

Using Mid-Semester Assessment Feedback

You might consider using your students' mid-semester feedback to:

1. Gather information that may help you make adjustments that improve the course.

At the TLT Faculty Center, we know that Stony Brook faculty teach because they are committed to --and passionate about-- their students' learning.  Most of the time your syllabus is a rough blueprint for your course and you probably make changes as your courses unfold.  Mid-semester is a good time to gather some information that might help make informed decisions about course changes. 

2.  An equally important reason is that a mid-semester assessment creates an occasion to converse with students about LEARNING the content of the course.

The vast majority of time in our classrooms is spent on the content we are teaching.  This is as it should be.  However, research about learning supports the idea that students learn better when they are intentional and reflective about the learning process itself.  Mid-semester is a good time to step back and talk with students about what they are being asked to learn and also to discuss effective strategies for learning it.  Students benefit when they understand that a course is a collaborative venture.  There are many things students can do to improve the educational experience for themselves and their peers.  A mid-semester assessment is an excellent opportunity for students to assume more responsibility for the success of the course.  It is an occasion to sustain or create a sense of learning community among the course participants.