Learning Assessment Techniques

 What are Learning Assessment Techniques (LATs)?

A Learning Assessment Technique (LAT) is a three-part, interconnected structure that helps teachers:

  • Identify significant learning goals (What do you want students to gain from your course?)
  • Implement effective learning activities (How can you promote active and engaged learning? What is an assessable learning artifact?)
  • Analyze and report outcomes (What were results? How can you use results to improve your teaching and learning?)
  • LATs are generally formative, non-graded in-class activities designed to help students monitor their learning.

 What are steps in selecting a LAT?

  • Step 1. Clarify what you want students to learn. Which significant learning dimension are you focusing on?
  • Step 2: Determine why you are assessing students’ learning.
  • Step 3: Select a LAT.
  • Step 4: Implement the LAT.
  • Step 5: Analyze, report, and reflect on results.
  • Step 6: “Close the Loop”, make changes to improve learning based on data you collected and analyzed. 

What are significant learning goals?

LATs are organized around Fink’s (2003) Taxonomy of Significant Learning:

Foundational Knowledge Understanding and remembering
Application Skills, thinking (critical, creative, and practical)
Integration Connection
Human Dimension Learning about self and others
Caring Developing new feelings, interests, and values
Learning how to Learn Become a better student, inquiring about subject, and become a self-directed learner

Why should you use LATs?

  • Provide students with ongoing feedback
  • Provide information about student learning
  • Provide students with opportunities to monitor their learning
  • Help students feel less anonymous in classes
  • Help students understand that learning is an ongoing process
  • Provide evidence that you value your students’ learning experiences

What are examples of LATs?

There are 6-10 LATs that address each of Fink’s (2003) Significant Learning Dimensions. Examples of LATs include the following:

  • Background knowledgeprobe is a brief questionnaire that is given at the start of a course, new lesson, or new topic. The purpose is to uncover students’ background knowledge and is aligned with Foundational Knowledge.
  • Minute paper is a simple and brief writing prompt that determines what students are learning. At some point in a class, an instructor asks, “What is the most important thing you learned today?” The purpose is to uncover students’ learning experiences and is aligned with Background Knowledge.
  • Entry or Exit Tickets are simple and brief questionnaires that determine what students are learning. At the beginning or end of class, the instructor asks a series of questions to determine what students learned. The purpose is to uncover students’ learning experiences and is aligned with Foundational Knowledge.
  • Fact or Opinion is a brief exercise where students identify fact or opinion from a list of 3-5 statements. The purpose is to help students think critically about an assigned reading and is aligned with Application.
  • A Case Study tells a real story related to course content. A good case study involves the following elements: tells a real story about an important issue; includes historical information about the case and a dilemma faced by a central character; encourages students to identify a problem as well as support a solution; and encourages students to integrate information and resolve an issue. The purpose is to help students connect information and think holistically about an assigned topic and is aligned with Integration.
  • Insights-Resources-Application is a reflective writing assignment based on assigned readings, class session, or unit. Students respond to the following questions: What new insights did you gain about today’s topic? What is one additional source that has similar thoughts, ideas, or themes? How is what you learned today related to your current or past experiences? The purpose is to help students reflect on what they learned and is aligned with Application.
  • What? So What? Now What? Journal is a brief assessment that can be used at the end of a class session, unit, or course. Students respond to the following questions: What happened in today’s class session? What did you learn today? What connections can you make between what you learned today and previous learning experiences? How can you apply what you learned? What would you like to learn more about and how will you learn more about this or a similar topic? The purpose is to determine how students are learning and is aligned with Learning how to Learn.

References and Other Sources

Barkley, E. F., & Major, C. H. (2016). Learning assessment techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

 Barkley, E. F., & Major, C. H. (2016). Learning assessment techniques worksheet. Retrieved from http://aacu.org/sites/default/files/files/gened16/AlabamaLATWorkshopWorksheet.pdf

 Center for Teaching Excellence, Vanderbilt University (2017). Classroom assessment techniques (CATs).

 Davis, B. G. (1993). Tools for teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

 Fink, D. L. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

 Fink, D. L. (2003). A self-directed guide to designing courses for significant learning. Retrieved from https://www.deefinkandassociates.com/GuidetoCourseDesignAug05.pdf

 CTE Workshop 

PPT Presentation