Early Assessment and Academic Support

Early assessment and feedback can be critical to student success in several key ways. These early assignments can also help faculty establish norms for their class with a relatively low stakes assessment. They can also:

  • Help set expectations of what assignments and content will be like for the remainder of the course
  • Establish how to submit assignments, expect, and interpret feedback
  • Opportunity to establish and discuss rubrics - particularly helpful for discussion posts and other more subjective assignments
  • Identify key pre-requisite knowledge for students, and identify support systems if students demonstrate they are missing content knowledge
  • Assist students in establishing a time management rhythm for the course through frequent assessment and feedback

Things to consider when designing early assessments:

  • Goal of the assessment:
    • What are some typical difficulties students have with the course - an early assessment could focus on those tasks or content so students can be directed to supports early
    • Motivation - early feedback - especially positive can help students identify what they're doing correctly; even critical feedback can still support that it's early in the semester and direct a student to support
  • Ease of grading: 
    • Build a rubric to match the assessment -  rubrics can also be used to deliver impactful feedback quickly
    • Consider length - Early feedback on a limited assignment can be helpful to guide students in assignments that are more in depth later 
  • Follow up:
    • What do you want students to do once they receive feedback? 
    • For students who struggle on an early assessment they can be used to nudge students to academic support as a follow up assignment 
    • For students who do well - confirm how this assignment will match later assignments - so they should repeat their process; or that future tasks will build on this