Overview: This activity is designed to assess students’ understanding of the course learning goals by engaging the students in an active, individualistic question and answer session. It provides the instructor with valuable insights about his/her students’ learning and if the course learning objectives are being met.
Course: HGSE T139 Investigating Teaching and Learning Through Close-Collaborative Examination of Student and Teacher Work
To assess students’ understanding of the course learning goals
To give the students a chance to see each other’s learning
To get students to think about their own learning as they examine the different themes from the course
Introduction/Background: Tina Blythe engaged her students in this activity about two-thirds of the way through the semester to gauge her students’ understanding of the course learning goals stated on the syllabus. She then used the information generated during the activity to make adjustments the last-third of the class to better meet the learning needs of her students.
Blank White Paper
Reflect on what you hope students have learned so far in the course. When you have created a list of five to eight key learning objectives, reframe them as questions the students can explore. For example, if a learning goal is for students to understand the possible neurological causes of autism, the reframing may be “what are some of the possible neurological causes of autism?” Tina selected seven different learning goals for the students to reflect on. She used the learning goals from the course syllabus as a starting point in generating the questions. Before class, write each question on piece of poster paper. Tape the posters up around the room before beginning the activity.
1. Introduce the activity by explaining many of the learning goals from the course are on posters around the room. Tell the students that when the activity begins they should read each of the posters and think about how they would answer the question or if the question provokes further questions.
2. Pass out two sheets of blank white paper to each student. Instruct the students to respond to one or two of the questions and that it is fine if their responses are further questions.
2. Give the students time to go around the room, read each poster, and respond to one or two of the questions. Once the students have written the responses have them tape the responses next to the posters they responded to.
3. Once all of the students have taped up their responses. Provide each student with two sticky notes. Instruct the students to preform a “gallery walk” where they walk around the room reading the other responses. While the students are viewing the other responses, they use the sticky notes to “vote” by sticking their post-its on responses or questions they would like to explore further. Encourage the students to interact with each other during the gallery walk. This can be done by having the students form pairs before the gallery walk begins.
4. Provide students the time needed to read the other students’ responses and to place their sticky notes.
*See the attached picture for an example of a learning goal rephrased as a question, the student responses, and the voting by sticky notes.
Take pictures of the posters or gather the responses after the activity has ended. The students’ responses likely provide formative feedback about the students’ understanding and what questions they may have. Tina captured the responses in a PowerPoint that she presented the next time the class met. The PowerPoint gave students the opportunity to be reminded of what the other students in the course had written. It provided a chance for the students to think about their individual learning as well as the learning of the group. After presenting the PowerPoint, Tina engaged the class in a brief reflection by asking the class if anyone had a comment or question they wanted to share.
Submitted by Tina Blythe, Instructor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education