Checking for Understanding-Teacher Mistakes and Better Techniques

Hunter Checking for understanding

Over thirty years ago Madeline Hunter used the term checking for understanding. Hunter, M. (1982). Mastery Teaching. El Segundo, CA: Tip Publication, pgs. 59-62.

3 common errors teachers make in checking for understanding

1. “O.K.? “With the assumption that student silence means it is OK and they understand.

2. “You all understand, don’t you? You don’t have any questions, do you?” Few students are willing to publicly admit they don’t understand. In fact, most students work hard to keep their teacher from discovering that they don’t know or can’t do. Yet one of the most important pieces of information that teachers can have is the knowledge that students have not yet acquired the necessary understanding.

3. “Now does anyone have a question?” Too often a query carries the implication that “If you do have questions, you obviously weren’t listening or you’re not very bright.”

She suggested several approaches to really check for student understanding:
Signaled answers
Choral response
Sample individual response
Tests, papers or observations

How do you check for student understanding and then what do you do to help the students improve in their learning?


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