The terms assessment and evaluation are often used interchangeably. However, they are different in their purpose, focus of measurement, and use. Assessment is typically formative, ongoing, and used to identify areas for improvement. Evaluation is summative, product oriented, and used to arrive at an overall grade or score.
Classroom assessment techniques are relatively quick and easy methods that help you check student understanding in “real time.” They can provide information that can be used to modify and improve course content, adjust teaching methods, and, ultimately improve student learning. Formative assessments are most effective when the information is used to effect immediate adjustments in the day-to-day operations of the course.
From the fourth to the eighth week of the semester, the Plus Delta Classroom Assessment Technique can provide extremely useful information. The beauty of this tool is that it asks students to focus on what is working to advance their learning in the course and what could be improved by the teacher and by the student. It helps students to think about their responsibility to the course and what they should continue doing to learn (PLUS) and what they need to change for the course to improve for them (DELTA) (Helminski & Koberna, 1995). The plus delta can also be completed on paper or online using Canvas, Qualtrics, or another software system asking these four questions:
- What is helping me to learn in this class?
- What changes are needed in this course to improve learning?
- What am I doing to improve my learning in the course?
- What do I need to do to improve my learning in this course?
Once the students complete the plus delta, collect these forms and then summarize them to report the themes in each category back to the class in the next session. The feedback loop is incredibly important as it creates the opportunity to discuss the shared responsibility for teaching and learning in a course. Instructors can also describe what changes will (or will not) be implement as a result of their feedback. To learn more, visit CELT’s Using a PLUS/DELTA Assessment Technique website.
Sara Marcketti, Interim Director
Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
Full Teaching Tip
View the published CELT Teaching Tip: Advancing student learning while providing valuable teaching feedback (February 1, 2018 – Constant Contact) website.