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Techniques for Assessing
Course-Related Knowledge and Skills

Assessing Skills in Analysis and Critical Thinking


  1. CATEGORIZING GRID - students are presented with a grid containing 2-3 important categories from what they have been studying, along with a scrambled list of terms/images/equations, etc. that belong in one or more categories. Give students limited time to complete (individual or group), can use as brainstorming technique or for grade.

  2. DEFINING FEATURES MATRIX - requires students to categorize information/concepts according to the presence (+) or absence (-) of important defining features, helps them identify and make explicit distinctions between concepts.

  3. PRO AND CON GRID - quick analysis of by class of the pros/cons, costs/benefits, advantages/disadvantages of a concept/issue. Forces students to go beyond their first reaction and search for two sides to an issue. Can be used in class or as homework, individual or group.

  4. CONTENT, FORM, AND FUNCTION OUTLINES - student analyzes the "what" (content), "how" (form), and "why"(function) of a particular message. Could be journal article, poem, critical essay, advertisement, etc. Students writes brief notes in the form of an outline that can be read quickly.

  5. ANALYTIC MEMO - students to write a 1-2 page analysis of a specific problem or issue, generally for a specific audience (employer, client, etc.) that needs the students' analysis to inform decision making.

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Virginia Commonwealth University | Center for Teaching Excellence
Last modified: June 20, 2013
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