Can Assessment Boost Student Engagement?

Getting students to engage with their learning can be a challenge. Learn how assessment design can motivate students, keeping them interested and involved.

If you’ve ever asked your class whether they’ve completed their pre-readings, only to be met with a sea of blank stares, you’re definitely not alone. It’s nice to dream of a perfect world where your students consistently come prepared to class, but most of the time, that’s far from reality. As much as we try, effectively engaging students can be a challenge — especially if we’re trying to keep it up over an entire semester. Although we’ll never stop their last-minute scramble before a deadline (when will they learn?), creating assessment that supports ongoing engagement ensures students are constantly learning and developing.

Continuous assessment is a way to create ongoing student engagement and ensure students are on a path to success.

Work assessment into your classes

Creating tasks for students to complete before or after tutorials is an easy way to introduce continuous assessment into your teaching. You can ask students to write reflections on the week’s learnings or to prepare responses to weekly readings. This way, they’re engaging with content on a regular basis while developing good writing practices.

By motivating students through regular assessment, they feel more confident to contribute and share their understanding. You can then use class time for valuable discussions, reviewing concepts, and providing feedback.

The only way your students are learning is if they know whether or not they’re doing the right thing.

It all comes back to feedback

Shifting from a single, large assignment to regular, small assessments gives students multiple opportunities to receive feedback — helping them improve, revise, and deepen their understanding. More importantly, effective feedback allows students to feel connected to their learning. The best feedback is relevant and timely — so using tutorials as a constant way to connect with students is a great way to achieve this. Reviewing the work students have done in preparation for class, and using it to prompt conversations around how they can improve, makes the entire experience all the more formative for students.

Your feedback doesn’t have to be formal or individualised either. Having a quick chat with a student about their work in class, or giving feedback at a group level is incredibly valuable, too. Another way to work feedback into your tutorials is by helping students develop skills around self-assessment and peer-assessment. By growing these skills themselves, they’ll have the confidence to know if they’re on the right track, or if they’ve got more work to do.

It works both ways

Integrating assessment into your classes also allows you to receive teaching feedback from your students. Using these assessments as a way to constantly check-in and gauge student understanding can help you flexibly adapt your content to address student needs. You can begin to identify if students are falling behind and provide them with support when it matters most.

Did you know? Cadmus provides you with Learning Analytics about how your students are working throughout an assessment. Just another way to understand how your class is engaging with the content.

This seems like a lot of work…

Knowing the benefits of continuous assessment doesn’t make it any easier to implement. It can be hard to find time to improve existing assessments — let alone to create and manage more. Too often, the cost of giving feedback and measuring engagement can prevent you from creating the learning experiences your students need.

Using a tool like Cadmus can help take the hassle out of managing continuous assessments. It’s an effective way to engage students and provide feedback, that won’t take a toll on your workload. Create tutorial tasks, have students respond, and then deliver feedback — all within the Cadmus environment.

Wondering what continuous assessment could look like with Cadmus? Learn more here.

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Now available at the following universities...

University of Melbourne Deakin University
Edith Cowan University Queensland University of technology