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Using Assessment to Boost Learning (Part 1)

Check-ins and Applications

Standardized testing is typically done to generate data on student learning, to rate students, and to evaluate schools and teachers. Yet, it is not solely teaching and testing that strengthens learning. Henry Roedinger III explains that testing alone does not help to embed learning, but the retrieval and application of learning does. In addition, Jeff Karpicke’s research at Purdue shows that frequent recall of learning in an applied context makes learning last for the long-term.

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Frequent Check-ins
Retrieval Cues
Cues that assist in recall serve to strengthen memory. A good idea is to stop often during learning to build those connections. This can be accomplished using prompts such as a mnemonic device, a graphic image, a brief musical passage, or a movement that connects to the learning. Check for understanding with checklists and self-assessment as students use these strategies.

Check-ins with Technology
Zaption makes it possible to embed questions directly into a video. Using the Zaption upgrade or your school’s learning management system, student responses can be quickly reviewed for accuracy of retrieval and evidence of understanding.
With ActivelyLearn a teacher can respond directly to a student’s understanding of a reading passage. Socrative and Quia generate quick quizzes that support frequent retrieval.

Applications of Learning
Formative assessment engages students as active learners. It is hard not to learn when you are expected to explain your thinking, respond to a prompt, engage in a corners activity where you support a position, or contribute to a Q and A mix-up where students write and hold onto their question cards but their answers cards are distributed and re-matched. Tracking progress towards goals by solving a problem, citing examples, or developing a portfolio of work is engaging, affirming, and indicative of progress and gaps.

When students are owners of their learning, they continually reflect on their learning, check progress towards success criteria, and plan next steps.

Try It Out: Select two ideas from what you have just read and explain two ways you will use what you learned. What advice would you give to someone who hasn’t read it?

Find more ideas in next blog: Higher and Deeper Thinking, Episodic Learning, and Brain Friendly Strategies


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