Monitoring Student Learning

Assessing students’ understanding of concepts in real time (or as close as possible) is one way to continuously monitor student learning and shift from an instruction model to a learning paradigm.  Monitoring student learning is the process of actively engaging students to demonstrate their learning and adjusting lesson plans accordingly to the level of student understanding (Ahuna & Tinnesz, 2003). For example, students are asked to develop a treatment plan based on a case study, in small groups, and then report out to the entire class. Based on the student responses the instructor can move on to new material or reinforce concepts based on student answers.

Monitoring student learning can be accomplished prior to class or within a class period.

Before Class

One method to use at the beginning of class is through pre-class posting of discussion questions on a course management system for students to review prior to class(**). The questions can be reviewed at the beginning of class to determine student understanding. Or students can be required to answer the questions on the course management system prior to class and the instructor can “monitor comprehension” and adjust the content before the class period. Another method to increase student engagement is for students to develop the questions to be answered (Kiener, 2008). In this variation, the instructor can assess the type of question (knowledge, compare contrast, application, analysis, etc) and the student answers.

In Class

A method to use near the end of a class is to ask students to write a one minute reflective statement and share their answer with a classmate. The instructor can collect the responses to prepare for the next class.

After Class

In addition to the instructor, students can also develop their comprehension monitoring skills. Asking students to develop mock exams to use as a study method (and to share with classmates and the instructor) is a method to encourage classmate engagement and assess understanding. Again, the instructor can assess the questions and student answers.


** Maryville University Professor of Nursing Geralyn Frandsen, calls this “ticket to class”, Maryville University Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy Robyn Otty calls this “no or low points…”, and Maryville University Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Counseling Michael Kiener calls this “pre-quizzes”. Feel free to contact any of these faculty members for more information on how they implement continuous monitoring of student learning strategies.


Ahuna, A.H. & Tinnesz, C.G. (2003).  Methods of Inquiry:  Applied critical thinking.  Dubuque, Iowa:  Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.

Kiener, M. S. (2008). The use of pre and post quizzes to increase student engagement in their learning. In Blythe, H., & Sweet, C. (Eds.), It works for me in scholarship shared tips for the classroom (pp. 79-80). Stillwater, OK: New Forums.