Quick Tips: Improved Checks for Understanding

"How to Improve Checks for Understanding" (post) outlines easy alternatives to "right/wrong questions" for in-class checks for understanding.

1. Why Checking for Understanding Matters

  • "Checking for understanding consists of specific points during the lesson or task when the [instructor] checks to see if the students understand the concept or steps and how to enact them to achieve the target."
  • "It clarifies the purpose of the learning, can be leveraged as a mechanism for feedback, and can provide valuable information that can be used to modify the lesson."
  • "Unless you check for understanding, it is difficult to know exactly what students are getting out of the lesson."

2. Some Strategies

a. "Formative assessment at the end of the lesson ... can be incorporated as a part of " the following:

  • "[I]ndependent practice (worksheet questions, problem-set, writing task)"

b. Another options: "Questions, questions, and more questions"

"Asking, working with, and answering questions is at the heart of facilitating learning ... [especially those] focused not just on the recall of knowledge and facts, but whether [students] genuinely understand the concept being addressed." 

"Instead of right/wrong questions, try:"

  • "Open-ended questions: Require students to reason beyond figuring our 'the answer' by forming [a] [supportable and supported] opinion or taking a [supportable and supported] stance."
  • "Rebuttal: Students respond to statements, both valid and invalid, with evidence."
  • "Probe students' responses: Always ask 'why' even when the answer is right. [Students] will assume they're wrong when you do this; reassure them they're right but require and explanation."
  • "Devil's advocate: Push your students' thinking by forcing them to consider the other side."
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