Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Instructor: Marsha Lovett
Course: 85-392: Human Expertise, Psychology Department, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Assessment: Reading Reflection Exercise to Prepare for Class Discussion


Although almost all of the students in this course are upper-level psychology majors, they still have difficulty completing the reading by the due date and in a way that prepares them for class discussion. I also was not able to assess the quality of their reading other than their contributions to class discussions; this was an issue for students who were not comfortable participating in class for a variety of potential reasons. Knowing how effectively students had read would help me give positive feedback to prepared students and give constructive feedback to students who had difficulty with the readings.


I created a three- to four-question reading reflection for each reading in the course. Two questions appeared in every reading reflection and asked students (1) to state the reading’s main point and (2) to identify a strength or weakness in the reading. The other one or two questions focused on specific aspects of the reading. Students wrote one-page responses to these questions, which they could refer to during class discussion and handed in at the end of class. I gave brief written feedback on these responses and scored them as check-minus, check, or check-plus; the reading reflections collectively counted for a small percentage of the final course grade.


Students’ performance on the reading reflections was consistently satisfactory or above. Students came to class much more prepared with ideas and reflections to share. Also, if many students showed a misconception or difficulty in the reading reflections that had not arisen during class discussion, I could address it in the following class period.


I was not sure whether the students would need to continue to submit these reading reflections for the entire semester. At mid-semester, I asked for students’ anonymous feedback on if the reading reflections were still helpful or had become unnecessary. All of the students responded that they wanted to continue the reading reflections because it structured their preparation for class and gave them extra incentive to do so effectively.

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