Below is an example from my Research Methods Course. Exams in this course are administered online via Blackboard.
Below are examples from my Health Psychology course. Even though this is an in person course, my exams are administered online via Blackboard. The exam is open for a five day window, and once students start the exam they have a full class period (75 minutes) to complete it.
Below is an example of a formative assessment for my online Research Methods course. In this 8 week class, students complete a quiz to assess their understanding of the material that was covered in class that particular week. These are administered via Blackboard and students have 15 minutes to complete it.
Formative assessments are conducted differently in my Health Psychology course. I utilize an active teaching approach and have students participate in in-class group work. Below you can find examples of in class activities and their learning objectives.
I also use in class activities for in person Research Methods II classes. Below are just a few examples of these formative assessments.
Below is an example study guide in my Research Methods 2 courses. Students spend one full class period completing this document in small groups. We then go over the answers together at the beginning of the following class.
Students come into my class with varying levels of knowledge, and therefore, it is important to start the semester by assessing their knowledge. In my research methods class, I start the first day of class by assessing the students’ general knowledge of 1) research design and 2) reading research. They read this article and answer the following questions:
- What is the independent variable?
- What is the dependent variable?
- Is this a correlational or experimental study? Why?
- What is the sample? What is the population?
- What is the take home message of this study?
Evaluation of Assessments
Summative Assessments. These assessments allow me to evaluate several things about my class. First, particular to my Research Methods II class, they allow me to evaluate the effectiveness of my study guides. While administering the study guides, I emphasize to students that the study guides are meant to prepare them for the exam. Thus, if students do well on the study guide but not the exam, I know that I need to improve the study guide. Second, these assessments allow me to evaluate my formative assessments. The daily, formative assessments are intended to not only apply class content, but to prepare students for the exams. If students are doing well on the formative, but not the summative, assessments then I evaluate where the disconnect is and adjust accordingly. Third, these assessments allow me to evaluate whether students are meeting the learning goals I set at the beginning of the semester. For instance, one of the learning goals for my Health Psychology course is to have students be able to apply the Biopsychosocial Model to both their professional and personal lives. Across the different exams throughout the semester, students are asked to apply this model to many different topics (e.g., health behaviors, pain management, stress). If students are not effectively doing this on exams, then I know there is a disconnect between my teaching style and student learning. More specifically, the first time I taught Health Psychology it was clear that more time needed to be spent on health behaviors; the time I allotted on this topic was not enough to develop a deep understanding of the biological, social, and psychological influences on our health behaviors. I now spend more time on each health behavior, spending a full day on each one instead of fitting them into one class.
Formative Assessments. These assessments are an essential component to my class. On the first day of class each semester, I identify a list of learning goals that I want us (the students and I) to accomplish by the end of the semester. We then work toward these goals by progressing through the different units. Using daily, formative assessments allows me to track students’ progress throughout the semester; this is particularly relevant for my Research Methods II course because topics build upon each other throughout the semester. I evaluate the daily, formative assessments in several ways. First, after students have time in their groups to work on the activities, we come together as a class and discuss the answers. If it is clear that there is difficulty with the content, we then spend the beginning of the next class period going over the activity. While this has mostly been an effective feedback mechanism, it is not always possible to tell whether a majority of students in the class are understanding the activity, as many choose to not join the class discussion. Thus, I also have my students turn these activities in with their names attached. This allows me to review each assessment separately. If it is clear that students need to spend more time on a given topic, I then dedicate the start of the next class discussing it further. Lastly, I also use these assessments to evaluate the effectiveness of my teaching. If many students are not understanding the in class activity, there are two aspects of my teaching I evaluate. First, my lecture may not have covered the material necessary to succeed in the activity. Second, the activity may not do an effective job applying class content. Thus, I evaluate my assessments after each class as well. If it is clear that I need to make improvements to the lecture and/or assessment for that particular topic, I work on improving that particular assessment for the next time I teach. For example, the first time I taught Research Methods II, I had students complete an activity that had them write operational definitions for different constructs (e.g., clinical depression, out group bias) that I provided. As I was grading these assignments, it was clear to me that the assignment did not work as I intended, because students did not fully understand the constructs I had them write definitions for. I have since adjusted this activity, and now provide students with constructs that are much more intuitive to college students (e.g., studying, stress). Since this adjustment was made, students have greatly improved in their ability to write operational definitions because they are not as focused on trying to think about what the construct is, but more on the operational definition itself.
Diagnostic Assessments. To date, I only use diagnostic assessments for my Research Methods II class. They are not used in my Health Psychology class because it is an introductory class, and previously held knowledge would not influence how I teach the course. However, it is expected that students come to my Research Methods II class with a basic level of understanding. Thus, on the first day I test their baseline knowledge by having them read a press article and identify certain components the study and describe its implications. If students are unable to do this, I ensure that we spend more time earlier in the semester covering these topics. If students are successful in this task, then I know we can progress through the basics more quickly and get to the more complicated content.