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Formative Course Assessment

thumbnail of course assessment handoutA formative course assessment is a selection of data collection methods and analysis used to inform instructors’ targeted improvements in teaching and courses. Data collection methods include surveys, focus groups, interviews, classroom observations, course curriculum material reviews and more, culminating in reports that present data in ways that facilitate instructors’ evaluation and interpretation of data, as well as provide a basis for collaboration with the ET&L consultant. Formative course assessments may focus on specific aspects of a course, or may be designed to elicit a broader perspective.

ET&L consultants understand the time constraints of university professionals and are committed to providing an individualized plan of action to help you achieve effective and efficient improvement. Schedule a formative course assessment to:

  • Receive a targeted plan of action based on thorough research
  • Discover small changes you can make that could have significant impact on learning and teaching in your course, and consequently on teaching evaluations

Click the handout thumbnail above to get more details about this service.

Formative Assessment Database

ET&L's database is a central part of our work with faculty. Information gathered during a formative course assessment is coded and analyzed along multiple axes, including instruction, course structure, course materials, learning activities, course content, guests, and the classroom environment, among others. The data is then gathered into a longitudinal report that highlights successes, areas for improvement and the instructor’s development over time.

Reports are used to inform consultations and targeted interventions. They provide feedback to help faculty incrementally improve their teaching practices and set well-focused goals for the classroom.

Instructor Feedback

Excerpts are from instructors' evaluations of ET&L services and are typical of the feedback we receive. These are published with permission from the instructors. Since our work with instructors is confidential, their names are not given.

"The comments from the students were generally positive, and that gave me confidence that they were receptive to my style of teaching, which in turn allowed me to relax more. I was very impressed that a service like ET&L even exists at UW. I think it is an extremely useful program, and found the personnel I worked with very professional and supportive."
"I always like the student survey part. I tend to get a lot of these, as it helps me understand where the students have issues. The students rarely come to my office to complain or provide feedback, thus the feedback provided mid-quarter is excellent."
"The SGID [formative assessment] clued me into many of the concerns the students had with the class; it let me know my weak and strong points. I was able to better structure lectures, engage students, and frame expectations after meeting with ET&L."
"Based on mid-term course evaluation responses, I made some minor adjustments to the structure of exams for my class, which I believe improved my ability to gauge student mastery of the material covered on each exam… As in prior years, I have found the mid-quarter evaluations provided by Jim to be exceptionally useful in making mid-course adjustments."