Assess Learning Strategies

There are numerous classroom assessment methods, but common to all is that they ask students to demonstrate or apply their knowledge.1 Use a variety of assessment methods to enable students to best demonstrate their understanding. Selecting the assessments you employ in your class is an important consideration; research indicates that the types of assessment instructors use impact what, how, and how much students study, as well as how they participate in course activities.2, 3 The following provides information about a few common assessment methods for you to consider using in your class to assess student learning and the effectiveness of your class.

GAMES Survey

One way to assess student learning strategies is to administer a survey. There are numerous surveys available for this purpose. Marilla Svinicki, a faculty member at the University of Texas-Austin, designed the GAMES survey which assesses students’ goals, learning strategies, and self-regulation strategies. Students can use their scores on the GAMES to identify weaknesses in their study skills, and as their instructor, you can aid your students in improving these.

Punctuated Lectures

Punctuated lectures are a useful method for gathering information about students’ learning strategies during instruction. Pause during instruction or provide a few minutes to complete the assessment following instruction. Ask students to reflect on what they were doing (e.g., taking notes, formulating a question) during instruction and how these behaviors guided their learning. Punctuated lectures can help promote student engagement during instruction and the development of their ability to think about their own thinking.4 Punctuated lectures provide information to instructors on how they can assist students during lectures, such as directing attention to important content or reviewing a concept to increase understanding.

Chain Notes

Chain notes are another useful assessment method for gaining information about students’ learning strategies. Prior to instruction, provide each student with a notecard on which they will respond to the question you pose to them. Develop an open-ended question that calls for a student’s response. For example, “When the chain note reached you, to what in particular were you paying attention?” After instruction has begun, give the envelope to one student and ask students to circulate it around the room. The envelope system allows the instructor to collect data about student learning strategies at multiple time points during lecture without disrupting instruction. Students may respond anonymously.

Similar to punctuated lectures, chain notes encourage students to reflect on their listening and learning behaviors. You can then analyze this data to examine patterns of student engagement. Students’ responses can be classified as engaged/not engaged and can be categorized by the content in which students were engaged, information you can use to provide the class with feedback about effective listening and learning strategies.


(1) Huba, M. E., & Freed, J. E. (2000). Learner-centered assessment on college campuses. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

(2) Rust, C. (2002). The impact of assessment on student learning: How can the research literature practically help to inform the development of departmental assessment strategies and learner-centered assessment practices? Active Learning in Higher Education, 3, 145-158.

(3) Tang, C. (1994). Assessment and student learning: Effects of modes of assessment on students' preparation strategies.

(4) Angelo, T. A. & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques. San Francisco: Jossey-Boss.

(5) Cross, K.P., & Steadman, M.H. (1996). Classroom research: Implementing the scholarship of teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Boss.

(6) DeBourgh, G. A. (2008). Use of classroom “clickers” to promote acquisition of advanced reasoning skills. Nurse Education in Practice, 8, 76-87.

(7) Mayer, R.E., Stull, A., DeLeeuw, K., Almeroth, K., Bimber, B., Chun, D., Bulger, M., Campbell, J., Knight, A., & Morling, B., McAuliffe, M., Cohen, L., & DiLorenzo, T. (2008). Efficacy of personal response systems (“clickers”) in large, introductory psychology classes. Teaching of Psychology, 35, 45–50.

(8) Edmonds, C. T., & Edmonds. T.P. (2008). An empirical investigation of the effects of SRS technology on introductory managerial accounting students. Issues in Accounting Education, 23(3), 421–434.

(9) Toppino, T., C. & Brochin, H., A. (1989). Learning from tests: The case of true-false examinations. Journal of Educational Research, 83(2), 119-124.

(10) Gronlund, N. E. (2003). Assessment of student achievement (7th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

(11) Fernsten, L., & Fernsten, J. (2005). Portfolio assessment and reflection: Enhancing learning through effective practice. Reflective Practice, 6(2), 303–309.