Assessments - Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation - Carnegie Mellon University

Conduct Assessments of Learning and Teaching

The assessment of learning and teaching can be viewed as two complementary and overlapping activities that aim to benefit both the quality of student learning and the professional development of the instructor. Assessing learning alone is not sufficient because the ultimate success of students is also dependent upon their motivation and commitment to learning. Similarly, assessing only teaching behaviors and course activities is not sufficient because qualities of the instructor may be appreciated by students but not optimally helpful to their learning and growth. Done in tandem, assessing teaching and learning can help instructors improve and refine their teaching practices and help improve students’ learning and performance.

Assess Student Learning

Techniques and tools:

Most of these methods are designed as formative assessments but they can also be adapted for summative use. 

Students' Self-Assessment

Assess Your Teaching Practice

There are a range of tools and methods available for assessing your teaching. The Eberly Center provides many of these, such as:
  • observing or video-taping your class and providing you with constructive feedback
  • helping you design and interpret early course feedback
  • conducting one-on-one consultations
To explore these and other possibilities, contact the Eberly Center.

Additional methods for assessing your own teaching:

Feedback for TAs: Sample early course and end of course feedback forms

Assessment Types and Goals

There are two major types of assessment, formative and summative, that can be similar in structure but have different goals.

The main goal of formative assessment is to gather feedback that can be used by the instructor and the students to guide improvements in the ongoing teaching and learning context. These kinds of assessment activities are low stake for students and instructors. Some examples include early course evaluations, having a classroom observer give feedback on your teaching, asking students to submit one or two sentences identifying the main point of a lecture, or to submit an outline for a paper.

The main goal of summative assessment is to measure the level of success or proficiency that has been obtained at the end of an instructional unit, by comparing it against some standard or benchmark. Assigning a grade to a final exam or a senior recital or results from the University Faculty Course Evaluations, are examples of summative assessment. The outcome of a summative assessment can be used as formative, however. When students receive comments on a final paper, or instructors receive comments on their FCE’s, that feedback can serve as formative assessment to guide their efforts and activities in subsequent courses.

assessment types and goals