IT Teaching Resources

TA toolkit session #3: Effective evaluation

Strategies for assessment to power learning and collective ideation

Gathering assessment and feedback

Guiding voice: Karin Forssell, Senior Lecturer at the GSE
Facilitators: Josh Weiss, GSE Director of Digital Learning Solutions; Emily Schell GSE Teaching Fellow and Fourth Year DAPS Doctoral Student
Presentation slides: Effective Evaluation, Toolkit #3

Recording of the session: 

Key Quotes:

Give some students some agency in choosing how they would prefer to respond and some options for different media to use.  (12:09)

I find that my students are often very appreciative of the opportunity to try these [reading] reactions in different ways. (13:35)

Rubrics … [help] our students immensely in understanding what goes into giving the feedback and what we’re going to be looking for in their papers. (20:30)

Talk about the importance of peer review. It is a professional expectation. It is something we all do. (30:51)

Make reviewing an actual assignment with a due date and some accountability. I use it as part of the participation part of the grade. (31:07)

In the community of a classroom, you’re trying to create this sense of “we’re all in this together.”  … Peer review builds a sense of community and empathy for both sides. (33:23)


Evidence of Learning – For effective evaluation, we have to think about what we are giving feedback on. 
  • Use the following guide to help connect course objectives to measurable outcomes: as a result of participating in (educational unit), students will be able to (measurable verb) + (learning statement). Source: Course objectives and learning guides
  • There are many different ways we can ask for evidence of students’ learning – not just text.
    • Examples: Draw and explain a diagram, find or create a meme that represents your reaction, or use other modalities for learning like a presentation, demonstration, teach a lesson, skit, portfolio, problem set, or sketch.
  • When we ask for writing:
    • Vary the prompts across readings. Example: “choose a word, a phrase, and a sentence  that resonated with you, and explain why.”
    • Consider giving students choice within an assignment. Example: “describe in your own words through a haiku, prose, meme, limerick, ballad, or drawing.”
    • Consider different kinds of written evidence of learning: reading responses, lit review, project report, scenario response, grant proposal.
    • Allow students to use different modalities. Students can record audio or video instead of writing a paper. To facilitate grading, ask students to provide a transcript (use Zoom or other transcription tools).
Define Quality – Giving different kinds of assignments makes it especially important to define what quality looks like. Clarity helps students turn in better work and makes grading easier.
  • Sometimes it’s enough that they turned in the assignment, and maybe they don’t need a grade.
  • Identifying “right answers” can be done using student response tools like PollEverywhere, Kahoot, etc. 
  • Seeing other students’ work helps students understand what you’re looking for. (Ask students if they are willing to share their work for next year’s class. Extract multiple examples that show good work.)
  • For evaluating open-ended assignments, rubrics can be extraordinarily helpful.
    • Consider the big ideas that you want to focus on for any given assignment. Example: Is this paper clear, compelling, and complete? Does the report include the practical significance, theoretical and empirical bases, and a research and development plan?
  • Tips on rubrics
Involve Students – The point of evaluation (feedback) is to be helpful. If we’re going to give timely feedback so that it can be used for improvement, then you need a fast turnaround time.
  • Asking students to self-assess using rubrics can help them improve their work. Can be used as a way to understand where the students are coming from. Discuss during office hours. 
  • Consider peer reviews.
    • When students review each other, they get more feedback in a faster time than from the instructor.
    • Students can recognize good work before they can produce it themselves. Seeing peers’ work gives the opportunity for them to see other examples and reflect on their own writing. 
    • Peer reviews open up communication to talk about the writing process, their expertise, and the feedback they received.
  • Peer feedback can be done in a variety of ways (these are synergistic):
    • Give in-line feedback on the document or higher-level comments through the rubric, or both.
    • Use different tools, such as google doc or Canvas. Example: How do I use peer review assignments in a course? 
    • Have a real-time conversation about strengths and weaknesses.
    • Emphasize positives as well as growth. Example: “What are the strengths of this paper so far? What are one or two changes that would make the biggest improvement?”
  • Tips for peer grading
    • Provide the rubric ahead of time so that students have time to read it and ask questions.
    • Talk about the importance of peer review. It’s a professional expectation. Example: No one writes alone: Peer review in the classroom, a guide for students
    • Make it an assignment with its own due date for accountability. Schedule time for revision.
    • Use names, instead of a blind review. 
      • When students know their reviewer, it opens up communication and accountability. Now they can discuss clarifying questions which in turn builds their empathy and class community.
    • Canvas Peer Review
      • Allows instructors to keep everything in one place with the rest of the course.
      • Have students practice using the peer tool in class before you assign it.
      • Reach out for help from GSE IT at

Additional Resources:

Lunch-n-Learn: Universal Design for Learning