FALL 2020: Improving the Learning Experience with Low Stakes Assessments

Published by Brett Christie, PhD
on Nov 19, 2020

In a world where learners experience giving and receiving feedback throughout their daily life, learning experiences most often provide the opposite. While learners are used to sensing and taking in an experience as part of processing their day, many times students and faculty have no sense of how well learning is happening until the mid-terms, final exams or final projects are graded. This serves no stakeholder well.

Good news! Low-stakes assessments help create an effective feedback loop and are easy to implement anytime in the term.

In our second FALL 2020 webinar, Improving the Learning Experience with Low-Stakes Assessments, O’Donnell Learn’s CEO, Carrie O’Donnell and I present four simple, low- stakes assessment techniques you can quickly use to improve your students’ learning experience.

1. Polls and Quizzes

These flexible techniques provide a continuous feedback loop while simultaneously increasing engagement. Be sure to demonstrate to learners how your polls and quizzes align with course materials to encourage engagement. Examples include:

  • Publisher resources
  • Adaptive learning
  • Polling via Zoom, Poll Everywhere, Google Forms
  • Quizzing tools like Kahoot.

Tip: Use often to glean feedback and to track progress; adjust instruction based on responses to close learning gaps.

2. Peer Instruction with Think-Share-Pair

This peer-to-peer feedback opportunity has been in practice for over 25 years and has been shown to motivate students, promote higher-order thinking, while also creating community engagement. Think-Share-Pair works as follows:

  • Ask an open-ended question
  • Learners consider and write down responses
  • Learner pairs or small groups discuss answers
  • Learner pairs/groups share with class
  • Instructor comments and clarifies.

Tip: Works best in a synchronous environment with tools like Zoom Breakout Rooms; with asynchronous learning, try Padlet.

3. Muddiest Points

Less frequently used, this technique asks students to share about their current struggles with the course. It provides immediate, contextual feedback to faculty and works in all modalities (discussion boards, Padlet, even chat) as follows:

  • Instructor poses one of the following questions
    • What was the most unclear or confusing point about the [lecture, reading, homework, discussion, etc.]?
    • What important question remains unanswered?
  • Use responses to help direct where to adjust lesson, resources or learner activities

Tip: Though uncomfortable for some, this technique does offer one of the quickest routes to know where any learning is off-track. Check out this template to learn more.

4. Exam Wrappers

So often learners focus on just a score as an indication of success over also focusing on learning and progress. This is an excellent method for helping learners adapt future learning by identifying strengths and weaknesses, recurring error patterns and any issues with prep time and strategies. Here’s how it works:

  • Provide a handout/worksheet for learners to complete the same day the graded exam is received
  • Guide learners to review performance with an eye toward future learning
  • Learners give wrappers back to instructor
  • Instructor returns wrappers to learners in prep for the next exam.

Tips: Use an exam wrapper after each graded exam is returned to help learners continue to adapt their learning for greater success. View Exam Wrapper samples here.

What’s interesting is we’ve found that the one thing learners consistently ask for is feedback – and they want it frequently. Learners want to learn and low-stakes assessments are the perfect vehicles for both students and faculty to give and receive much needed feedback which can be used to help adapt and shape instruction, close learning gaps, and improve learning success. A win-win for all.

Watch the full webinar here (Run time: 30 Mins)

Join us for our next webinar “Prep for Spring Semester with the Purposeful Learning Scorecard” on Wednesday, December 2nd at 12pm ET.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

INSIGHTS

“See each other for the humanity that holds us” Lessons in Trauma Informed Pedagogy from Mays Imad

Published By Cathryn Mattimore
on Oct 20, 2021

O’Donnell Learn recently hosted a webinar led by Mays Imad, Ph.D. as a part of its recent Purposeful Learning Festival focused on mental health and wellness. Dr. Imad is a thought leader in trauma-informed pedagogy and a professor at Pima Community College based in Tucson, Arizona where she is also the coordinator of the Teaching & Learning Center. As a current Master’s of Education student at Northeastern University who also lives with mental illness, I was excited to learn more about using the classroom, virtual or traditional, as a safe place for learners to heal and grow. I met virtually with Dr. Imad to hear more about her teaching philosophy, beliefs surrounding mental health, and ways to ensure student success in uncertain times.

Higher Ed Has the Toolset, But Do They Have the Mindset to Future-fit?

Published By Joana Jebsen
on Aug 12, 2021

Imagine a fresh-faced eighteen year old, naive to the great big world ahead, hoping for an acceptance into an accredited two or four year college. They’re navigating the long hall towards their college counselor’s office, reviewing the list of schools in their mind, while envisioning a future of friends, inspiring courses and eventually a career, a life. College, whether community or four year, will be their first steps towards adulthood, towards maturity, or so they think.  What they don't know, what they aren’t told, is that most higher education is unequipped to prepare them for life. The real responsibilities they’ll meet when they exit campus are not delineated, explored or taught in school.  To make matters more complicated, the notion of the “traditional student” no longer exists. Students are opting out of four year residential colleges for two year schools and online programs. They’re also delaying the start of college in pursuit of a career. Additionally, there’s been an enormous uptick in adult learners, with families, who start school later, or attend school in tandem with a job. It’s clear: there’s a broken talent pipeline. And an enormous question: is higher education fit for the future?

Looking Back/Learning Forward: Lessons For the Now Normal

Published By Brett Christie, PhD
on Jul 20, 2021

Looking Back, Learning Forward, a motto and mindset to utilize as we envision the future of distance education and fuse historic learning practices with modern lifestyles. I recently co-hosted a webinar with Dr. Jim Julius, Faculty Director of Online Learning at Mira Costa College, where we walked a group of educators through insights gathered over the last fourteen months of online learning. If one thing is clear, it is that it’s been a journey for everyone: faculty, students, education consultants, learning designers, institutional leadership, and families alike.