Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Feedback on Student Learning

In a well-designed course, the instructor continually obtains feedback on student learning.  Such information enables both the instructor and students to monitor learner progress towards achieving course objectives. As such, class assessments should be carefully designed so that they accurately and reliably measure student performance in the class.  These resources are designed to help instructors develop high quality assessments for their classrooms.

Assessment allows both the instructor and students to monitor progress towards achieving learning objectives. Formative assessment refers to a variety of assessment tools all pursuing the same education-driven goal: to “help form, or shape a student’s learning.”
Reliability refers to how well a score represents an individual’s true ability. Reliability is important to ensure that assessments accurately measure student knowledge. Because reliability refers to the score, a test or rubric cannot be deemed to be reliable or unreliable.
Validity is a key concept in assessment. Many methods are used to measure student learning and skill development.
Multiple choice questions remain a commonly used tool to assess student learning because of their ease of implementation. They allow instructors to sample from a wide range of course material, and are also relatively easy to grade.
A rubric is a measurement tool that describes the criteria that will be used to evaluate a specific task such as a student writing assignment, poster, oral presentation, or other project. Rubrics allow instructors to communicate expectations to students, and can increase the reliability of scores.
There are a variety of tools that can help instructors create an anonymous online survey. Such software may be used to gather formative feedback on student learning, conduct midterm course evaluations, or pose other survey-like questions.
Instructors can bring biases, both unconscious and conscious into the grading process using their knowledge of students’ previous scores, race/ethnicity, gender, and other attributes (Malouff, 2008; Malouff et al., 2013). These biases can potentially lead the instructor to grant lower or higher grades to particular students for reasons not completely based on actual performance.
While grade inflation at Yale creates a uniformity among the marks given to students, the grading practices used by instructors at Yale varies across departments and disciplines. Three basic grading practices are formally institutionalized by the Handbook for Instructors of Undergraduates in Yale College.