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No Hands Up and Other Assessment Strategies

Hello Colleagues, Asking questions is probably the most commonly used approach to assess student understanding. According to Dylan William in a blog entitled "The Right Questions, The Right Way," "[t]he whole idea that students should always answer teachers' questions correctly is actually rather odd." Wiliam goes on to explain that "if the students are answering every one of the teacher's questions correctly, the teacher is surely wasting the students' time. If the questions are not causing students to struggle and think, they are probably not worth asking. As I say to students, 'Mistakes are evidence that the questions I asked are tough enough to make you smarter.' Of course, the best teachers have always said that making mistakes is OK, but recent research has shown that making mistakes in learning is actually better than not making mistakes (Huelser & Metcalfe, 2012). When students are taught material and tested on their recall, the students who did badly on the test and are shown their mistakes and the correct answers are the students who score best on a post-test weeks later."

What is your reaction to these ideas?

In this blog, Wiliam recommends several ideas for assessing learning that get all students engaged and that require higher levels of thinking. What do you think of the following assessment approach? ... "rather than asking students to answer a math question, the teacher could pose two questions of differing difficulty on the board and ask, 'Which of these two questions is harder and why?'" What do you see as the potential positive outcomes of posing this type of question?

Check out the blog and let us know your thoughts about the strategies discussed: No Hands Up, All Student Response Systems (electronic or individual white boards), and Planning Questions (ahead of time).

Reference: Huelser, B. J., & Metcalfe, J. (2012). Making related errors facilitates learning, but learners do not know it. Memory and Cognition, 40(4), 514–527.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Assessment CoP