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College Writing Information Literacy Toolkit

This Toolkit helps faculty and librarians navigate the College Writing Course relationship.

Formative vs. Summative

Formative Assessment Summative Assessment
Low stakes, informal High Stakes, formal
High Impact Practice  Low positive impact on student learning
Continuous, takes place during the instruction session Periodic, usually takes place at the midpoint or end of a course
Monitors student learning Evaluates student's learning/performance by comparing to a benchmark/standard
Ask the student to demonstrate learning via authentic tasks Students take a test, give a performance, or write a paper
Offers descriptive feedback Evaluative feedback
The instructor can adjust the teaching based off of real-time feedback from student's performance of tasks May be used diagnostically

Classroom Assessment Techniques for CW1 (Formative Assessment)

These are commonly used formative assessment techniques that quickly assess student learning. These CATs can give you real-time feedback, allowing you to adjust your teaching based off of student performance of specific tasks. When all else fails, have the students reflect on what they learned with you that session!

Recall and Understanding

Background Knowledge ProbeCreate a brief questionnaire to give you a sense of student baseline knowledge in order to decide where to begin instruction.  

Poll Everywhere - create a poll using For example, ask students questions about what you covered in the previous class session or in a video they watched before coming to class. Use this to assess if they "got" the information, and to decide if you need to spend more time on this content before moving on.


Muddiest Point - have students reflect on something that is still unclear to them. Collect the responses and follow up with the instructor post-class, or at the next instruction session. 

One-Minute Paper - students reflect on something that they learned, something they found useful, or something that they might use after the class.


Application Cards - pass out note cards and ask the students to tell you how they might apply what they learned in the instruction session to their assignment, or in another class. 


One Sentence Summary Challenge students to answer: “Who does what to whom, when, where, how and why?” about a topic. Then they synthesize those answers into one single summary sentence.


3–2–1 Countdown - Students are asked to reflect on what they didn't know, what surprised them, and how they might apply these knew skills or behaviors to their work. End the class with this activity. Give them index cards to write on, or they can respond orally. They are required to respond to three separate statements:

  • 3 things you didn’t know before
  • 2 things that surprised you about this topic
  • 1 thing you want to start doing with what you’ve learned