Simple ways to find out more about your learners’ progress

Monitoring learner progress throughout the course can be a useful source of information for the teacher. Even though we tend to rely heavily on tests (summative assessment) to grade learners, summative assessment can give us an opportunity to have a clear picture of the impact of our teaching so that we can adapt it or shift focus on areas our learners need to work on.

Asynchronous learning can offer quite a few opportunities for such assessment even with young learners. Teachers can assess learners at their own time,away from classroom distractions and keep a record of the learner progress individually and as a class without much effort.  Below you can read about some ways that you can exploit asynchronous learning with popular tools used widely on a global scale.

Word clouds at the beginning and end of a unit.

Invite learners to brainstorm on a topic at the beginning of a unit or a story by forming a word cloud. For instance, “Write 4 words to describe the character of the story” or “ What are the benefits of healthy eating?”. Students can be given the link to enter the words at home and you can present the final outcome in class. At the end of the unit repeat the task. This will allow you to assess in an indirect way the extent to which learners have enriched their vocabulary.  There are several tools that you can use to form a word cloud. Below you can see a sample using ®Mentimeter. The learners were asked to write up to 4 words to describe Mr. Hoppy – the main character of Roald Dahl’s “Esio Trot”.  Comparing the two clouds has given me a good picture of the learner progress.


Reflective Writing

Students often welcome the idea to reflect on current issues and express their views and feelings.  You can either invite them to share their thoughts or opinions on a virtual “wall” e.g. on “Posts” on an ®MS TEAM or an LMS (Learning Management System), a digital notebook such as ®OneNote or a document they can share with you. The content they will produce is valuable since – unlike the guided writing practice given in class- you can have a genuine picture of the strengths and weaknesses of each learner in a freer practice activity. It will also allow you to give delayed feedback or plan remedial lessons focusing on specific areas. 

Tools such as ®OneNote provide personal pages that can be seen only by the individual learner and the teacher, as well as collaboration spaces where learners can share their work with others. With students who do not feel confident to “expose” their work to the rest of the class, you can provide personalized feedback on their page and then encourage them to share the edited draft with the rest of the class on virtual space that can be read by their peers.  In addition, reflection on their progress and how they perceive the learning process may help you support them effectively by adapting your teaching or offering tips and hints on how to deal with difficulties they face in specific areas.

Gamified activities

®Kahoot, ®Quizizz and many other online tools rank high in students’ preference because they offer a sense of gaming in learning. Few, if any at all, learners would resist the temptation to do a quiz on one of the above-mentioned tools, as part of their homework. Apart from motivating learners, another benefit is that the teacher can have the data, sometimes very analytically – depending on the tool and the version – which will allow them to assess the level of the class and individual students in specific grammatical or lexical items. Even though asynchronous quizzes and tests cannot be considered as reliable as the ones learners take in class, they can still chip into the greater jigsaw puzzle picture of a learner’s performance.

Listening Comprehension with videos

Students love videos. Assigning for homework a video with a few comprehension tasks can be exciting for learners. You can use either ®MS Forms  or  ®Ed Puzzle. They both allow multiple choice - they can provide instant feedback to learners-  or open-ended questions while you receive the data and you can easily do the statistics or draw conclusions about the level of your students when it comes to listening comprehension and writing (if you opt for the open-ended answers).   ®Ed Puzzle enables the teacher to incorporate the questions on the video and pause on selected scenes so that the learners can reply. It is a safe platform but there is a limit on the number of videos in the free version and you need to declare the name of the school you are working for.

Closing thoughts

It  can be argued that asynchronous activities may not be a reliable indicator of the learners’ level and progress because students may be helped by parents, private tutors or even share the correct answers with their peers. They may be right but experienced teachers tend to compare data and can easily tell if learners have completed the tasks with or without help. The type of assessment discussed on this post can offer supplementary data that – added to other forms of assessment – can provide a clearer depiction of learner’s strengths and weaknesses.

Learning technology can facilitate formative assessment by providing accurate data which is easily stored, accessed and analyzed by the teacher at their own