Quick Writes as a learning assessment strategy


I’m beginning to think that a workshop without learning assessments does a disservice to participants. Most corporate sessions end with the formality of a workshop evaluation. That’s important. It can help a facilitator to improve their practice and make the workshop more meaningful. ¬†Yet, I think that’s not enough.

The chief goal of any learning assessment in a corporate environment is not evaluation. There is a subtle but important difference between assessment and evaluation. Assessment is about giving feedback to the learner to help them develop their understanding and skill. Evaluation is about ranking performance on the workshop’s learning expectations.

Quick Writes are a nonthreatening, informal assessment activity for enabling students to make connection with lesson material. Typically, a quick write activity starts with a question about the topic. Then, learners are given about 5-10 minutes to respond to the question in their own words. The workshop facilitator should encourage learners to focus strictly on the topic and not writing conventions. Therefore, punctuation, grammar, and spelling are not relevant to the exercise.

It’s best to set the stage for the assessment at the start of the workshop. Let participants know that you will have them reflect on parts of the material with quick writes. I would recommend avoiding the word assessment. Position it as a chance to articulate and elaborate on the course material.

In the spirit of gradual release of responsibility, consider doing a collaborative, group quick write with subsequent quick writes handled by the learners on their own. One word of caution, avoid over using it. Three very short quick writes is as far as I would go.I’m now in the process of reworking all of my instructor led training sessions to include some form of assessment at the end of each module. Asking True or False questions, or using Thumbs-up Thumbs-down is great. However, at least some of the workshops assessment of learning should engage higher-order thinking. Quick Writes does that.