Assessing Student Achievement

There are two main reasons for assessing what students have learned from the experiment. The obligation to assign grades at the end of the semester is the most obvious. In addition, is a very helpful way of making sure that the experiment is a useful part of the class and can help with fine tuning the experiment for future semesters.

There are a number of strategies for assessing student learning. Thinking about the learning objectives you selected for the experiment is always a good starting point.

  1. Give a post experiment quiz or homework assignment. These assignments can reinforce the lessons from the experiment by asking students to revisit what happened or work additional practice problems similar to those completed in the experiment.
  2. Design test questions about the experiment itself. Basic questions ask students to describe important features of the experiment itself and summarize the results. It may also be appropriate to ask students to perform calculations similar to those from the experiment or interpret some similar data. More advanced questions might focus on predicting results in a different experimental treatment that is related to course material or designing a follow up experiment. Students can also analyze a similar experimental design and suggest modifications based on their experience.
  3. Ask students to design an experiment to test a new hypothesis.
  4. Present students with questions that have "no right answer" that are designed to find out how they perceived the experiment and its purpose. Some examples:
    • Were the experiment's instructions clear - if not, what did you find confusing?
    • What did you learn from the experiment?
    • In what ways did the experiment help you to better understand related class material?
    • What questions do you still have about the topic we studied?