Knowing whether students understand the material is clearly useful, but too many formal formative assessments can cause stress and be time-consuming. Sometimes it may be more appropriate to have more informal testing, or even ask the students directly what they find challenging.
Rating confidence in a topic
For a recap at the end of a module or a revision session, you may want to get a sense of which topics need the most attention. There are a few different slide types that might work here. A Multiple Choice slide gives you the option to allow more than one answer (and set the maximum number of answers), so you could list the topics and ask students to pick their main problem areas. Although you won’t see individuals’ results, you will get an overall picture of where the class is struggling. Alternatively, you could ask students to rank the topics or give a confidence score for each.
Tests and quizzes
Quick tests, as well as keeping students engaged, can also give you feedback on student progress. Although anonymised (and this may help give students the confidence to take part), the combined scores can highlight areas where many students have struggled, suggesting topics to go over again. You can choose whether or not to display the results and/or the correct answers.
There is also the option to run competitive quizzes; students (or teams) can enter a nickname and get a time limit for each question, and there is an optional leaderboard to show the winners.
Where students have been asked to prepare in advance for the session, starting with a test or a self-assessment of capability can give you a sense of whether students engaged with the pre-class task and what they struggled with.
Question and answer
…students seemed more confident when asking questions using Mentimeter than doing so verbally in front of peers (Vallely & Gibson, 2018)
It may be standard practice to ask if there are any questions, but you can do a few things to make it more likely that students will take you up on this.
- Use Mentimeter for questions from the audience – the anonymity of Mentimeter may make people feel less shy about asking what might be a ‘stupid question’.
- You can configure the slides so that questions can be submitted by the audience at any time, but you can pause to answer them at set points. This means people can ask while the question is fresh in their minds, without disturbing the flow of the lecture.
- As a general tip, it can help to say something other than “Any questions?” on your Q&A slide as this often makes people go blank. Try something more specific like “Is there anything else you’d like to discuss about X?” or “Can you see any problems with Y that we haven’t covered?”.
In addition, you can choose to have students see each others’ questions and upvote the ones they like, so you can start by answering the most popular queries or misconceptions (and it may help some students to know their question wasn’t so ‘stupid’ after all!).
Note that as well as the Q&A slide type, the Open Ended slide type could potentially be used. This would allow you to display an overview of the questions being asked, perhaps to see if they were grouped around certain themes. This would mean students couldn’t upvote however, and you wouldn’t be able to mark questions as answered. It can be very useful for more of a feedback style of Q&A, however.
Vallely, K., & Gibson, P. (2018). Engaging students on their devices with Mentimeter. Compass: Journal of Learning and Teaching, 11(2). https://doi.org/10.21100/compass.v11i2.843