In-Class Student Assessment Techniques

By Sandy Chapman

How do you know whether your students are grasping the concepts presented in class? Do these scenarios sound familiar?

You've just covered a difficult concept in lecture…. You've scheduled a midterm in two weeks, but want to make sure your students are ready now for the next topic. How do you quickly find out whether they're with you?

You assume students remember what was covered in the last class, so you begin today from where you left off. When a student stops you in the middle of class and asks you to define a term from the last class that you've been using casually throughout the lecture, you hesitate. Was this student absent, or has the class missed a key term? How will you know for sure?

These scenarios and some excellent, simple solutions can be found in a Speaking of Teaching (Stanford University Newsletter on Teaching) article, Do You Know Where Your Students Are? Classroom Assessment and Student Learning.

The article details a proven three-step process of assessing, evaluating, and sharing results that generate useful student feedback. It also provides examples of assessment methods by which both instructor and students benefit. These include reflective student activities such as having students:

  • Document their problem-solving steps to assess problem-solving skills
  • Create concept maps tying related ideas together in order to assess critical thinking skills
  • Document the time spent completing parts of an assignment to assess time-management skills
  • Document the steps taken to complete a project to assess project-management skills
  • Write one-minute, in-class papers, at the end of class to answer single, lecture-related questions to assess the effectiveness of your class presentation.


Do You Know Where Your Students Are? Classroom Assessment and Student Learning. (1993).Speaking of Teaching: Stanford University Newsletter on Teaching, 4(2). Retrieved July 30, 2007, from