Course Assessment

Are your students learning? How do you know? Assessing your course or section is important for both students and instructors, and is generally most effective when based on multiple sources of information. Any one source of data – for example, student evaluations – is limited.

Similarly, quizzes, exams, problem sets, and writing assignments alone may not capture individual differences in student ability nor instructor effectiveness. For each individual class meeting, assignment, and exam, as well as the course as a whole, it is helpful for instructors to consider the following questions:

  • What are my primary goals and objectives?
  • What points seem to confuse students?
  • What went well and why?
  • What do I need to do to follow-up?

Here are a three simple and powerful tips for assessing your course or section:

  1. Pre-test your students so you know their strengths and limitations and so you can compare pre-course performance with post-course performance.
  2. Do midsemester or early feedback so you know what is working and not working with time to make modifications.
  3. Do "one-minute papers or quizzes" at the end of each class meeting so that students can indicate anonymously what they still find confusing.


  • Bain, Ken. (2004) What the Best College Teachers Do. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA, pp. 151-173. [Available in the Bok Center Library in Science Center 318 or at various campus libraries.]
  • Guskey, Thomas R. (2003) How classroom assessments improve learning, Educational Leadership, 60(5), pp.6-12. Harvard affiliates can access this article online.
  • Rando, William L. (2001) "Writing teaching assessment questions for precision and reflection," New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 87, pp. 77-83. Harvard affiliates can access this article online. The Teaching Assessment and Evaluation Guide. Senate Committee on Teaching and Learning: York University (2002).
  • Seldin, Peter. (2006). Evaluating Faculty Performance: A practical guide to assessing teaching, research, and service. Jossey-Bass. [Available in the Bok Center Library in Science Center 318.]