Creative Ways to Assess Math Understanding

An assessment is more than simply having a student solve a problem to see if they can get the correct answer. Good assessments expose strengths and weaknesses, help to improve student learning, and is useful to make decisions for further instruction. The best assessments are informal and fun because students are relaxed and can really show what they know.

There are many creative ways to assess a student’s understanding of a concept and show their thinking. In each case, it is helpful to have a rubric, so students clearly understand the expectations and requirements for the assessment.

Explain a concept

Students can explain a mathematical concept using an example as they work to arrive at a solution. The student can use any method they wish to display the explanation and solution. They may choose to use a creative method. For example, if a student likes to draw, they may choose to create a comic strip; if they like to make videos, they can create one to display the math concept.

Teach a concept

Students can prepare a short lesson to teach a concept to siblings, parents, or peers. This is an engaging way for students to demonstrate understanding. The student will include problems for their audience to solve based on the teaching of the lesson. The student will have to make sure the solutions to these problems are correct.

Create a publication

Students can create a publication such as a journal, newspaper, or magazine, or even blogs displaying math concepts. Writing helps them to organize their thoughts and mathematical thinking. This method of assessment is an effective way for students to show off their creativity and apply mathematics to the real world.

Conduct an interview

An interview with a student as either the interviewer or interviewee can shed light on how well the student understands a certain concept. Interviews can quickly assess what a student knows and identify misconceptions. It is a terrific way to connect and support learning.

Perform a real task

A real-world task like going shopping provides opportunities to assess math understanding. It not only demonstrates proficiency in the concepts but critical thinking and decision-making skills. For example, grocery shopping is an effective way to assess operations with decimals or an understanding of proportions.

It is best to use a mix of assessments when assessing students. Some concepts may be better assessed using one method than another. Since students express themselves better when they are relaxed, keep the assessments casual and enjoyable.

Athlene WhyteSpecial thanks to Athlene from Buzzmath for this week's post. 

Athlene Whyte is a subject matter expert in mathematics. She is a former educator and school administrator who now writes and edits math content for school publishers.

Buzzmath is a digital interactive program developed by Scolab to build conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and real-world application in mathematics for grades 1 through 8.

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