Are your students learning what they should be learning? What are you doing in or outside the classroom that either helps or hinders their learning?  Formative feedback and assessment can help you find out before it’s too late.

Feedback and assessment are often used interchangeably. However, there are some important differences: Feedback focuses on providing information on student learning in order to plan, adjust or improve future learning goals, behaviours and activities.  Typically, it looks more at the learning process. Assessment allows you to gather information about a student’s learning and is generally more content focused, i.e. are the students learning what they need to learn? Graded assignments throughout the term are examples of formal assessment.

Informal formative feedback and assessment occur throughout a class or a course and can be seen as a continuous conversation that allows you to adjust your lesson plans to make sure you meet the students where they are, while making sure the course learning outcomes are met. Sometimes a simple question, a quick questionnaire or a fun quiz (try Kahoot) is all it takes. Or for quick feedback, you can take the temperature on our class and ask everyone to stand on a specific point on a line on the floor (or point their pointer if online) depending on how they feel about a certain question. Finally, a feedback activity such as a Stop, Start, Continue questionnaire can be super helpful to do about a third of the way into a course.

When asking for feedback from students, don’t forget to show them a summary and tell them what might change (if anything) as a result of the feedback. Aside from valuable feedback to you, formative feedback shows the students that you listen and care about their learning and that you are willing to take constructive feedback and use it to learn and grow – just like you expect of them. An infographic is a fun way to feed back the feedback.

The more in-tuned you are with your students, the fewer surprises later, for them – and for you!

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