Effective Assessments: Objectives, Goals, and Results

By: Dr. Jenny Billings – Chair of English and Study Skills, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and Cengage Faculty Partner   As someone who majored in and teaches English, I surprise others by how into numbers and data, I actually am. I have always been careful, curious, and strategic; I am always anticipating the outcome, what an action will yield. That’s a trait I have in common with my best friend, who actually teaches Mathematics.

Creating SMART Goals in Higher Ed Courses

While earning my doctorate, I took a class on data-driven decisions and one on planning and assessment. The combination of these classes Read More…

WebAssign Class Insights Wins 2017 EdTech Digest Cool Tool Award

Learning Platform Drives Student Success in STEM Disciplines WebAssign, from Cengage, was recently recognized as the winner of EdTech Digest’s Cool Tool Award in the Classroom Management Solution for Teachers category. The EdTech Digest awards program recognizes outstanding contributions in transforming education through technology to enrich the lives of learners everywhere.

Monitoring Student Performance

Class Insights gives instructors a greater level of insight into performance and student pain points, enabling them to engage with their class based on individual and overall data. The analytical view of students’ progress helps instructors identify at-risk students early in the semester, as well Read More…

Providing Constructive Feedback to Student Research Papers

As students turn in their first essays and research papers for the spring semester, it can be challenging to provide the type of feedback that will most help your students improve throughout the course. While college students are shown to value individualized comments on student essays, finding the balance of how to provide feedback without overwhelming or exasperating is difficult. Consider these tips for providing constructive feedback that will improve their writing over the course of the semester—making your job of evaluating their writing that much easier when it comes time for finals.

Goals for written feedback comments

In Read More…

How to Check College Students’ Understanding

In the second half of the term, it’s vital to ensure that all of your students are keeping up with the material. Without actively checking progress, some students  might not realize there are holes in their comprehension until they see a final grade on an important exam. Strategic learners know that the time to assess their understanding of a concept or material is before taking a test, and it should be an ongoing practice.


According to Svinicki and McKeachie, in the text McKeachie’s Teaching Tips, 14th Edition, checking students’ understanding can be as simple as having them try to paraphrase or apply what they’ve been learning. For example, trying to paraphrase in our own words what we are reading in a textbook is a good way to help build meaning, but it also helps us to identify gaps or errors in our understanding. If we try to apply our knowledge and have difficulty using it, or if we try to explain it to someone else and cannot do it, we would also know that we have some comprehension problems. Monitoring our comprehension is an important part of strategic learning that fosters self-regulation. Only if we know we have a problem in our understanding or a gap in our knowledge can we do something about it. (299)

 Cooperative learning

Another helpful way to assess your students’ understanding is with cooperative learning, which helps teach a variety of learning strategies. McKeachie explains cooperative learning as a method that builds on peer tutoring: We have long known that in many traditional tutoring situations the tutor, not the student receiving the tutoring, benefits the most. While processing the content for presentation, the tutor is consolidating and integrating his or her content knowledge. At the same time, the tutor is also learning a great deal about how to learn. The tutor needs to diagnose the tutee’s learning problem, or knowledge gap, in order to help the tutee overcome it. (299) For more tips on how students can utilize cooperative learning techniques in the classroom, visit our post “College Study Habits: Note Sharing Read More…

The Testing Effect: Changing Student Behavior with Enhanced WebAssign®

Contributor: Rochelle Beatty, Program Manager, TeamUP Peer-to-Peer Faculty Development. Have you ever taken the time to compare the results of your first test to the final grades in your course? If so, you probably noticed a correlation between passing the first exam and passing the course or even persisting until the end of the semester. I remember my mentor explaining this phenomenon to me during my first year teaching college (25+ years ago) and over the years I have realized, she was correct. In fact, we noticed that only about 40% of our students were successful in passing Read More…

Cheating on Exams? Not In My Classroom!

There are dozens of insightful articles on why students cheat on exams and almost as many on how students accomplish this. There are also other interesting sites that offer pictures of students actually carrying out their deceitful methods. This article focuses on the how question combining discussion with illustrations so that educators can get a sense of what to look for when suspicions arise. This can go a long way in detecting as well as preventing this devious behavior.

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Best Practices for Teaching Accounting Courses Online

This article discusses the best practices in teaching and learning online accounting courses in the second largest, private, nonprofit, and accredited institution of higher learning in California. The university offers a unique one-course-a month format that caters to the needs of working adults with average age of thirty three years. The flexible online degree programs enable students to complete their degree programs in a highly intensive and accelerated time frame. This piece of research provides strategies and techniques that result to more effective and efficient teaching/learning in the Bachelor of Science in Accountancy program. It includes topics such as course outline, program learning outcomes mapped to institutional learning outcomes, specific courses and related course learning outcomes, asynchronous threaded discussion, synchronous live chat sessions, and grading factors in the assessment of students’ achievement in the course. It is hoped that this research will contribute to a more productive learning and teaching experience in the global virtual classrooms.
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Join the ThinkNation Webinar: Assessing Learning in Higher Education

Join us for the first session in the Building a ThinkNation Webinar Series: Assessing Learning in Higher Education

In the world of higher education, the focus is on learning and preparing students with skills necessary for success in their academic and professional careers. But, how do you assess student learning and success? How do you know when students are at risk? And how do you ensure early intervention before it is too late? Join us for an informative, lively discussion around best practices and lessons learned. Also hear a few practical tips on how to leverage MindTap analytics Read More…

Tips for Students: Five Reasons Why You Should Not Miss Another In-Class Activity

Guest Contributor: Bridgett McGowen-Hawkins, Senior Professional Educator, TeamUP Cengage Learning Peer-to-Peer Faculty Development. Not again! Your professor has decided it’s time to “hear from you” and make class more active, and you automatically think “Why can’t I just sit and listen to the lecture?!”   They’re not trying to make you uncomfortable or fill class time because they have nothing to say. There’s a definite method to the madness.   Educators engage in activities such as attending conferences, reading articles, and chatting with colleagues about what works in the classroom, and as such, they have specific, research-based reasons for wanting to move Read More…

Activity: Practicing Test-Taking Strategies

When students take the time to study for their examinations, they’re working to increase the likelihood of performing successfully on the test. However, if they’re using effective study skills, they’ll also reinforce what they’ve learned and perhaps develop a deeper level of understanding of the course material. In addition, they’ll also reduce their test anxiety as they become more confident in their knowledge and skills. As with any endeavor, practice is one effective means of increasing one’s proficiency and knowledge at test time. You may already provide students with practice questions, but if you don’t, you can encourage Read More…