A Case for More Testing: The Benefits of Frequent, Low-Stakes Assessments

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A Case for More Testing: The Benefits of Frequent, Low-Stakes Assessments

SJ Contact profile image
Author :
Sarah Jones
A Case for More Testing: The Benefits of Frequent, Low-Stakes Assessments

SJ Contact profile image
Author :
Sarah Jones

How to Implement More Assessments (Without Losing Your Mind)


1) Know that “effortful” testing is not always necessary

While effortful testing is best for retrieval practice, even basic, easily graded recognition tests such multiple choice questions still offer benefits, such as helping students remember basic (but important!) information.


2) Create different assessment questions

You can also make assessments more effortful by creating questions that engage higher cognitive processes. Now you can sit back, relax, and indulge in one of my personal favorite pastimes (watching student brains explode) without the stressful grading!


3) Make use of educational technologies to ease your grading

For instance, clicker tests are a quick way to test students and allow you to provide feedback for the class all at once.


4) Make assessments into games

If your students need a morale boost, make a quiz into a trivia game and give winning groups candy. Some good old competition and Pavlovian conditioning may make students reassess their view of testing.


5) Assess participation

Doing something as simple as a participation grade will still provide students with incentive without overburdening them or yourself. For instance, this type of grading would work in conjunction with #3.


6) Keep graded assessments predictable

Making assessments predictable as opposed to utilizing pop quizzes helps students feel at ease.6 Furthermore, if they students KNOW an assessment is coming, they are more likely to study and pay attention.


7) Find ways to revisit old material in your assessments

Making assessments cumulative is an effective way to space out your review of material and has the added benefit of making problems interleaved and effortful, all of which maximize retrieval practice.


8) Have students reflect on mistakes

You can help students develop metacognitive skills by giving them opportunities to reflect upon and correct their mistakes on assessments. For instance, have students take a quiz and then discuss their answers/thinking with their classmates before receiving feedback. You can also give students opportunities to create keys to short answer questions and grade their own and several (anonymous) classmates’ answers. This will allow them to think through what makes an answer complete and effective.


9) Break large assessments into small ones

Instead of creating new assessments, break up large ones into multiple, lower-stakes assessments. For example, consider replacing big tests with several quizzes. Consider scaffolding large projects such as independent research projects and term papers. Ask for outlines, lists of references, graphs, etc. along the course of the semester before the final project is due. This might cause more work for you in the short term but can help prevent complete disasters at the end of the semester, which can be time consuming.


10) Utilize short daily or weekly quizzes

If you don’t want to adjust a big project/test or lose class time by adding time-consuming assessments, consider adding short daily or weekly quizzes. These grades can add up to equal one test grade. One could consider dropping the lowest score(s) but allowing no make ups to reduce logistical issues.


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Posted by:
Makena Neal Teaching Toolkit Tailgate
#low-stakes #assessment #teaching toolkit tailgate