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Check for Understanding

posted Oct 12, 2015, 3:59 PM by Shawn Beard
Often it is difficult to get a grasp of student understanding when covering a new concept in class without having a one on one discussion with students.  But singling out each student to discuss concepts with them can take away from valuable class time.

One solution to this that I have used is to use a "Check for Understanding" checklist during Group Work.  To give you an example, I once taught a short lesson on Hydrocarbon Molecules.  As the students were working on a group activity, I wanted to check the understanding of each student so that I knew who was struggling and who had a firm grasp of the topic.  To do this, I created a sheet like the one below that I carried around on a clipboard:

Student Name: John Doe

Standard or Task
Rating of Student Understanding
Needs Improvement
Fair Understanding
Mastery of Concept
How many single bonds can be formed with a Carbon Atom?

What is the molecular formula for Methane?

What is an alkane?

What is a functional group?

What is a saturated compound?

As I moved around the room, I asked each student to explain or answer each question in the checklist.  As they answered, I would rate them on a scale of understanding of 1-5.  1 being a Needs Improvement rating and 5 being Mastery of Concept.

As I worked around the room, student groups could continue to work on the lab without interruption, but also with the knowledge that I was observing along the way.  When I finished, I collected all of the sheets and sorted them in terms of needs.  This allowed me to be more productive during class, while providing an informal assessment along the way.

As times change, so does technology, so I have created a digital form of this checklist using Google Forms.  

If you would like to use either of these, just use the links below:

Paper Checklist - click the link below to save a copy to your Google Drive account.

Google Forms Checklist - Open this file and then click File > Make a Copy to add a copy to your Google Drive account.