6. Assessment & Feedback

Recommendation 6.5: Expectations & Feedback
Explain your expectations and how you will evaluate and provide feedback on submitted work.

Synopsis from Self-Review

Use text, audio, or video to introduce an assignment and remind students how the assignment is connected to learning outcomes. Make it clear how the assignment will be graded and how you will give feedback. Clarify the connections between evaluation and outcomes in the assignment prompt, rubric, and so on. Provide examples if possible.

How to Put Into Practice

Look at your assessments from the student perspective to make expectations transparent.  This transparency should extend from instructions for what to do in an assignment (see Recommendation 6.4: Writing Clear Instructions) to expectations for what successful work looks like. Here are strategies for helping students receive and apply these critical messages to their learning.

Use text, audio, or video to introduce an assignment. Remind students how the assignment is connected to learning outcomes. Point to the real-world relevance of skills and knowledge they will develop.

Provide relevant examples and resources. Include models and steps of a problem, examples and walk-throughs, extra resources to guide homework and course activities and places to go if help is needed. 

Use rubrics to clarify expectations before students submit their work. While we may associate rubrics with grading a finished product, rubrics can also help students understand and apply expectations to their work-in-progress. Adding a rubric also helps instructors grade more efficiently.

  • This resource outlines how to use rubrics to communicate clear expectations to students.
  • The Sheridan Center at Brown University offers resources for designing rubrics of different types (including weighing the pros and cons of different rubric types) and for creating grading criteria
  • The Writing Center offers a guide to How to Build and Use Rubrics Effectively with the helpful caveat that “we shouldn’t expect rubrics to answer every question or solve all of the challenges we face in communicating with our students about our expectations.” That is, the messages we send in a rubric about where students should focus their energies should thread through multiple venues (course activities, learning outcomes, and interactions) in order to help students truly receive and process them.

Use peer review to help students apply expectations to actual student work. Peer reviews are a particularly powerful part of the learning process, because they constitute an assessment (i.e. they provide information about what students know and can do in order to improve subsequent learning), a learning activity, and an opportunity for reflection on the learning process. Canvas has tools to make assigning peer review easier, for both the instructor and student. 

Use Canvas tools for transparency and efficiency. The Canvas Gradebooks and Speedgrader are two tools that can make evaluation more transparent for students, and more efficient for instructors. 

  • The Canvas Gradebook offers tools that support feedback practices to help students recognize where they stand in the course, as well as highlight areas for improvement. 
  • Canvas SpeedGrader allows you to view and grade student assignment submissions in one place using a point scale or a rubric. 
  • You can also provide feedback to your students with text, audio or video comments either in the Gradebook or directly on students documents with SpeedGrader’s annotation feature, DocViewer.

Share instructions with students on how to view feedback in Canvas.

Additional Resources

Background Information

What is this?

When introducing assessments, provide specific information about expectations of upcoming assignments, how they will be evaluated, and how feedback will be communicated.

Why is this important?

In order to perform well, students need to understand how they will be evaluated. By explaining how they will be graded and receive feedback, you can help students understand how they can learn from and build on each assessment.

Where is this?

Expectations for assessments and course activities are explained in the Assignment descriptions on Canvas and other course communications. These may include text, video or audio. Feedback may be given through Rubrics, comments and annotations, and also through peer review.

Success Factor 6: Assessment & Feedback

Methods for assessment, grading, and feedback are planned and clearly outlined for students. Assessment methods should be carefully considered in terms of equity, transparency, rigor, and integrity, and may challenge conventional approaches to quizzes and exams.

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