Assessment and feedback

Assessment and feedback are key parts of the learning cycle. Meaningful feedback is especially important to learning, as it provides students with detailed information about their work that helps guide them toward enhanced understanding of a subject, as well as mastery of the skills required to deliver a longer-term assignment in a professional and impactful manner. Meaningful feedback is specific, timely, and purposeful. It can be solicited and delivered to a student by an instructor, a peer, or an external practitioner in the field. As with an assessment, feedback can be a blend of qualitative and quantitative observations.

Assessment is a measurement or evaluation of a student’s knowledge, skills, and abilities. It can help an instructor determine a student’s grasp and understanding of a subject and skill set, and be used as a basis for giving feedback. Assessments can be designed in many different formats, from the more traditional multiple-choice quiz or research paper, to a self-reflection journal, to asking a student to a design a game, a website, or an educational curriculum.

Feedback and assessments online can be designed and delivered using a variety of platforms and formats, some of which are outlined below. It’s recommended you provide both formative and summative assessments and feedback to students during the semester, and that you solicit feedback from your students in return, to help give you a barometer of how the course is going for them to date, and to allow you time to make adjustments as needed or desired.

Formative assessment & feedback

Formative assessment and feedback is ongoing and typically low-stakes. It allows students to gauge where their strengths and weaknesses fall, as well as better understand what skills and knowledge their instructor is looking for. Formative assessment allows an instructor to catch and address student struggles and misunderstandings early-on, and provide guidance to bolster student understanding prior to submission of a higher-stakes assignment. Examples of formative assessment and feedback include:

  • Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) are ungraded, in-class activities that are rich in feedback opportunities. Examples of CATs include Application Cards (asking students to provide a real-world example of how a concept or theory could be applied), Concept Maps (a diagram that depicts suggested relationships between concepts), and the Exit Slip (asking students to report on what they have learned through a guided or open-ended reflection at the end of a new lesson or topic). You can learn more about CATs and see more examples at Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching website, as well as in Western Washington University’s Teaching Handbook.
  • Having students turn in drafts of a research paper or select components of a longer-term project for feedback, building toward a final and complete submission at the end of the instructional unit or term
  • Requiring students to provide peer feedback to each other on an assignment before it gets submitted to the instructor for a grade

Summative assessment & feedback

Summative assessment and feedback serves as a means to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit or term, to determine how closely the student has achieved the overall learning objectives of that instructional unit or course. Examples of summative assessment and feedback include:

  • A midterm exam
  • A multi-week project that students turn in at midterm or end of term
  • A solo or group presentation about a topic related to the course
  • A research paper
  • A recital or performance

Delivery formats & platforms

Feedback can be offered online via text or other annotation (videos can also be annotated with feedback), via audio recording, or via video recording. You may find audio to be a quick and easy way to provide feedback to students in a way that’s very personal and that allows the student to be able to better decipher the intent of the feedback, whereas text-based feedback can sometimes be misinterpreted.

Canvas facilitates offering assessment and feedback in multiple formats. It has a Quiz feature that allows you to set up standardized assessments with question types that are auto-graded and that provide auto-feedback on, for example, multiple choice, true/false, and matching questions. It also accommodates submission and feedback for alternative assessments, via such features as the SpeedGrader and DocViewer.

Remote assessment and feedback can be delivered and tracked using a variety of Middlebury-supported platforms, including:

  • Canvas quizzes, assignments, peer-to-peer feedback, and SpeedGrader
  • Self-reflection or journaling using Google apps
  • Blogging or website creation using Sites DOT or Middcreate
  • Presentations or creative work captured in video using Zoom or Panopto

Resources for delivering, tracking, and providing feedback on assessments

SpeedGrader and DocViewer in Canvas

What Tools Are Available to Provide Annotated Feedback on Videos?

Download/Upload Assignments in Canvas

Peer Review in Canvas

Rubrics & Checklists

Quick Tips

  • Communicate often & be present
  • Review your assessments from the perspective of a student before publishing them
  • Ask students for feedback and ideas
  • Use a detailed rubric with assessment criteria
  • Assess process + content + product (not just final product)
  • Provide formative + summative feedback (revise & resubmit)
  • Make use of peer review
  • Incorporate self-reflection + self-assessment
  • Consider using social annotation for peer reviews & self-assessment. Two tools to which Midd has free access:
    • Hypothesis for annotation of web-based content & PDFs, plus YouTube videos
    • GoReact for annotation of video content