As educators, assessments are at the heart of our teaching practice. When we create meaningful assessments for students, we not only gauge student learning, but we also create a better understanding of what students still need to learn and what we may need to reteach.
Students care about the assessments in our course. We may have even noticed students will sidestep our modules if possible to access their assignments via the “To-Dos” in Canvas. Assessments can bring students a great sense of anxiety, but also a great sense of accomplishment when they earn a good grade.
Assessments can be very intimidating for students. Students are in our courses because they want to succeed and good scores on assessments will help them be successful in our course. As educators, taking time to humanize our assessments can help to make assessments less stressful and support student learning.
To humanize assessments, we can:
- Design authentic assessments that reflect the real world, require innovation, pull together many skills, and integrate opportunities for feedback (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). Authentic assessments help students to practice skills they’ll need in their careers. As a bonus, connecting assessments to real-world careers can help students engage more deeply with course content.
- Give students choice by letting them choose the topic of an essay or the modality they’ll use to create an assignment. Incorporating student choice can help us to create assessments that can be customized to each student in our courses.
- Use warm language in our assignment descriptions and rubrics. Some assignment descriptions and rubrics can use language that is cold and formal. By revising the language in our assignments, we can take this opportunity to send “kindness cues” to students through the use of warm language (Estrada et al., 2018). Using warm and encouraging language in our assessments can help students know that we are on their side and want them to succeed.
- Provide meaningful feedback. We often spend a lot of time providing student feedback and it makes sense we want students to read it and use the feedback to improve their learning. To help students engage with feedback in meaningful ways, we can design assessments in which students will need to use our feedback and apply it for subsequent assessments.
These four strategies can help to create humanized assessments that show students we are their guides on their educational journey. We are all here to support our students and humanized assessments can help to communicate this to our students when they need it most.
By Dr. Alex Rockey