Contributor: Michael Lafreniere, Ohio University-Chillicothe.
As another college semester unfolds, learning is most certainly taking place—right? Yet, how can we be sure? We have collected student work, evaluated their problem solving skills, and assessed their learning with assignments, quizzes, and exams. All of these items are like “individual jewels” for us to use as teachers…to piece together in an effort to hopefully form a complete “mosaic” of a student’s or class’s accomplishment in learning.
Regardless of your discipline or preference with using digital tools, we can use traditional means of collecting assessment scores and aggregate these scores as averages or rank order for determining student learning achievement (i.e., grades). Other components of assessment can be gathered with additional layers of instructor labor such as student time on tasks, student discussions, class discussions, laboratory activities, student presentations and other formative approaches. All this belies the need to grade student work on a selective or time-consuming comprehensive basis. Where do we find the time to do so much, eh?
With digital assessment and learning systems like Enhanced WebAssign, we can collect student knowledge at the granular level needed to aggregate learning at the collective class and individual student levels. Combine this with the flow of time during a semester and properly placed interventions by teachers can stem the development of misconceptions or the waning of procedural fluencies. Optimizing the level of learning requires insight into the class and student degree of effortful practice. The tracking of student time on task can be an early indication of declining interest or fervent determination to learn and practice the course concepts (Figure 1).
This view of time on task may serve well to identify students with a high productive disposition and self-efficacy. Yet, it’s in combination with assessment results where the appropriate teacher intervention can start to materialize. Individual levels of student success can be aggregated with item analysis capabilities on all assignments (e.g., homework, labs, quizzes, exams). This item analysis makes visible the class level learning or, more importantly, the difficulties and misconceptions developing that could benefit from teacher intervention (Figure 2).
Fortunately, Enhanced WebAssign’s new Class Insights (Figure 3) feature provides this aggregation of student learning so the visibility of student and class learning is made evident to the teacher. With Class Insights viewed regularly, a teacher can provide the “just-in-time” intervention when a student or class needs it the most – well before the final exam, eh! As concepts and procedures are flagged for concern from this aggregation of student effort, the underlying granular details of what led to such a flag are there for the viewing by the teacher. You can see, and make visible, the students who need the intervention – providing the teacher with information to help apply an intervention for the benefit of the whole class or that of the students directly affected.