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 helps instructors and students monitor progress towards achieving learning objectives. Formative assessment is used throughout an instructional period to treat misconceptions, struggles, and learning gaps. Summative assessments evaluate learning, knowledge, proficiency, or success at the conclusion of an instructional period.
Reliability methods in higher education ensure that assessments accurately measure student knowledge. Reliable scores help students grasp their level of development, and help instructors improve their teaching effectiveness. Instructors can make reliability methods transparent to motivate student efforts and assure them of accuracy.
Validity is defined as the interplay between test designers' proposed interpretations of scores, and test administrators' experience and contextualization of scores. Instructors can improve the validity of their classroom assessments, both when designing assessments and when reporting scores back to students.
Multiple choice questions effectively assess student learning because they are flexible, relatively easy to implement and grade, and allow instructors to sample a range of course materials. Research suggests that regular practice questions can also facilitate conceptual knowledge gains much like active learning.
A rubric 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, allow students to check in on their progress mid-assignment, and can increase the reliability of scores.
Anonymous online surveys can be effective teaching tools, helping instructors gather feedback on their teaching, assess prior student knowledge, or perform active learning exercises. A variety of tools can help instructors create different survey types.
Instructors can bring biases into the grading process through their knowledge of students’ previous scores, race/ethnicity, work ethic, and other attributes. Because biases can lead to unfair grading standards, instructors can consider tools for establishing blind grading practices.
Grading practices used by instructors at Yale vary across departments and disciplines, although grade inflation can create an image of uniformity across the College. The Handbook for Instructors of Undergraduates in Yale College formally institutionalizes three basic grading practices, including letter grades, midterm feedback, and graded assignments.