Creative Ways to Assess What Your Students Really Learn

Student Comprehension: Creative Ways to Assess What Your Students Really Learn

We communicate and process information differently. Incorporating only one assessment style is counterintuitive to measuring the accuracy of what a student comprehends. Inspired by the McDonald’s Dollar Menu design, consider incorporating predesigned platforms that allow the student to choose from a menu of assessment options, thereby not over taxing the educator with hours of extra work and grading.

Ground rules

Students must be trained to use the assessment menu platforms early on in the class. The instructor must model and display instructions both in-class and online for students, parents, and administrators. Developing the assessments should center on Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Learning styles (VAK) that utilize technology platforms that will do the “heavy lifting” of grading so that the instructor is not overburdened.


Example Topic – Gravity

Gravity could be used in history classes to discuss the moon landing, in science classes as an experiment, in math classes as the basis for learning formulas, in English classes as the center of writing a nonfiction story, and even in PE to discuss its effects on throwing a baseball. Consider this topic in your subject area and the flexibility of using the following platforms as part of your assessment menu.


Formative/Summative Assessments

Quick response assessments can be as easy as raising of hands but may not accurately reflect the student’s comprehension of the topic. Consider a low tech option, a shower board, placed in their hands to demonstrate understanding. Inexpensive and available at your local hardware store one shower board can be cut into mini dry erase boards that students can use to reply by word, image or both. Digital solutions to gain individual student quick responses can include platforms such as Twitter, Verso and PollEverywhere.


The Formative/Summative Assessment Platform Menu

Traditional Auditory Visual Kinesthetic The Wildcard
Multiple choice, true or false, essay, all can be given on paper or online for students that are comfortable with the traditional method of assessment. Quia, is an online platform that grades your exams, provides multiple student accommodations, and has a simple and easy to use interface. Assessment through words can be a lifesaver for many students that are willing to use a cellphone or Google Docs Dictation. Provide audio prompts in which the student can express their responses either in audio format or through dictation software. Android (Google), Apple, and MS Word all provide free dictation applications. Visual assessment helps students to display what they know through images such as graphic novels, comic books, animations, and slideshows.

YouTube, Animoto,  
Snapchat, PPT

Assessment through action can provide student the opportunity to express the mundane of topics into creative masterpieces.

From posters to pottery, even music can be mastered and recorded free online with platforms like Audiotools and Jamstudio.  

Student Choice

This menu section is purposely left blank as an option for future student, parent, and administrative suggestions.



Assessment Design and Student Choice

Designing each menu item for every unit may seem like a daunting task but it really does not have to be. Consider writing a standard test of multiple choice, true and false, essay, short answer, and fill in the blank. The same methodology of thought used for those five separate and distinct assessment options can be translated into the Formative/Summative Assessment Menu items. Designing each unit may have a different number of questions and levels of rigor per menu item. Consequently, students should be prepared to choose 2, 3, or possibly 4 menu items to show complete mastery. Students are more apt to be engaged, motivated, and try their best when they are given choices based on their learning strengths and preferred styles.


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