Checking For Student Understanding: How and How Often?

 In Feedback

How much is too much?

The answer is you can never check for student understanding too much.

Frequency is key when trying to asses where students are during a lesson. Many teachers struggle to decide how often to check for understanding of the material at hand. According to KIPP:Blog:

Check for understanding at least three times a lesson. Minimum. Teachers should check for understanding at least three times per lesson – after Introduction to New Material (INM), Guided Practice (GP), and at the conclusion of a lesson. Far too often teachers motor through INM right into GP without checking the class’s level of understanding.

Red, Yellow, Green Feedback Strategy

A great strategy to use when checking for student understanding during a lesson is the Red, Yellow, Green feedback strategy. Each student has a red, green, yellow card as part of their daily materials. When teaching a concept, ask students to work on a task involving the concept that they are trying to master. Before providing the answer,  ask them to raise one of the cards:

  • Green: Got it.
  • Yellow: Maybe, but not sure.
  • Red: Not happening.

A quick glance at the colors will indicating how students are doing on the learning target. The information helps to know when to move on, re-teach, or pay close attention to the groups of students who are not quite catching on.

The main purpose of this strategy is to provide a pulse check about how students are doing as instruction takes place. An added bonus – students realize when they are raising more red cards than desired. Open the door for those students to seek additional help.

Give all your students a chance to experience success by practicing something that will result in a lot of green cards. This helps your students celebrate their wins and build their confidence.


Featured image source: Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Resource: Who’s Engaged? Book


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