Checking for Student Understanding

In this module, faculty learn how to effectively check for student understanding by using quality questioning techniques and whole-class formative assessment strategies including the One-Minute Paper, Muddiest Point, and In Your Own Words.

To satisfy the module requirements, practicing faculty must apply at least one technique, such as calling on both volunteers and nonvolunteers, using wait time, asking students to clarify or expand on their responses, or implementing a classroom assessment technique.

This module is one of five modules under ACUE’s unit on Assessing to Inform Instruction and Promote Learning.

Advising Subject Matter Experts

Elizabeth Barkley
Professor, Music History
Foothill College


Thomas Angelo
Professor, Educational Innovation and Research
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Module References

Angelo, T. A., & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Barkley, E. F., & Major, C. H. (2016). Learning assessment techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Black, P. (2003). The nature and value of formative assessment for learning. Improving Schools, 6(3), 7–22.

Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998). Assessment and classroom learning. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 5, 7–74.

Dailey, R. (2014, April 21). The sound of silence: The value of quiet contemplation in the classroom. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from

Dallimore, E. J., Hertenstein, J. H., & Platt, M. B. (2013). Impact of cold-calling on student voluntary participation. Journal of Management Education, 37, 305–341.

Deslauriers, L., Schelew, E., & Wieman, C. (2011). Improved learning in a large-enrollment physics class. Science, 332, 862–864.

Earl, L. M. (2012). Assessment as learning: Using classroom assessment to maximize student learning. Thousand Parks, CA: Corwin Press.

Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2007). Checking for understanding: Formative assessment techniques for your classroom. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Frese, M., & Keith, N. (2015). Action errors, error management, and learning in organizations. Annual Review of Psychology, 66, 661–687.

Fusco, E. (2012). Effective questioning strategies in the classroom: A step-by-step approach to engaged thinking and learning, K–8. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Handelsman, M. M. (2013, November 26). The case of classroom cold calling: What do you think? Psychology Today. Retrieved from

Howard, J. R. (2015). Discussion in the college classroom: Getting your students engaged and participating in person and online. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Ingram, J., & Elliott, V. (2016). A critical analysis of the role of wait time in classroom interactions and the effects on student and teacher interactional behaviours. Cambridge Journal of Education, 46, 1–17.

Knight, J. (2013). High-impact instruction: A framework for great teaching. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Krause, S. J., Baker, D. R., Carberry, A. R., Koretsky, M., Brooks, B. J., Gilbuena, D., . . . Ankeny, C. J. (2013, June). Muddiest point formative feedback in core materials classes with YouTube, Blackboard, class warm-ups and word clouds. Paper presented at the 120th American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, GA. Retrieved from

Nilson, L. B. (2010). Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Wieman, C. (2010). Basic instructor habits to keep students engaged. Retrieved from the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative at the University of British Columbia website:

Wieman, C. (2016). Observation guide for active-learning classroom. Retrieved from the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative at the University of British Columbia website: