Continuous assessment is equivalent to taking vitals often. A nurse would not let a patient go for long periods of time without knowing their status (e.g., vital signs). In education, a similar requirement is present. Faculty need to frequently "take vitals" — Where is the student today? What does she understand? Where is the cohort today? What do they understand?
Continuous assessment can come in many different forms, using multiple tools. For instance, in Elsevier’s Sherpath, students interact with didactic lesson content with interspersed micro-quizzing. If a student misses a micro-quiz question, it will take a student back to where that content was derived from in the lesson for instantaneous reinforcement, then students can repeat the micro-quiz question(s).
Sherpath lessons also have post-lesson assessment that is a powerful feedback tool for both instructors and students. Instead of waiting for the student to read for hours, just hoping he/she retains/understands, the post-lesson assessment will provide students with feedback on their learning and instructors can identify areas for meaningful, perpetual intervention based on performance.
Elsevier Adaptive Quizzing
Elsevier Adaptive Quizzing (EAQ) provides students and instructors with a set of vital signs as they take quizzes throughout the course. EAQ quizzes can be leveraged in a variety of ways to address student performance needs, reinforce course learning objectives, and prep/remediate for exams. When students use EAQ, they are provided with instant feedback on their quiz performance and rationales associated to all questions to help them learn and contextualize the content.
Other types of continuous assessment include the pre-class or beginning-of-class quiz. We know that if a student has a quiz to complete before class, or suspects a pop quiz at the beginning of class, he/she is more likely to read. This motivational strategy also will help the learner identify personal gaps in understanding and allow him/her to spend more time focused on personal weaknesses.
Pre-class quizzes can also help educators determine what to focus on during class time. For instance, if a quiz is given online, the instructor will get an instant performance report. They can then quickly look at the results, identify three or four questions where scores were the lowest, and make them the focus of the lecture.
On a larger scale, the students should continuously be tested with standardized testing tools across the curriculum. Students should receive at least 1-2 standardized exams as graded activities per semester. The reason for this is to identify knowledge gaps in individuals and cohorts long before graduation. For instance, in semester one, the students take the pharmacology and health assessment HESI exams for a grade (maybe as a final exam in the course). The personal student reports from these assessments become learning objects in semester two (e.g., students journal in clinical based on the part of the HESI exam where they scored the lowest). The cohort reports help instructors in semester two develop learning activities that can address some of the overall needs for the class (e.g., the cohort report shows that this group of students is especially weak in the evaluation part of the nursing process).
Continuous testing gives vital sign data to students and faculty. With this data, they can better focus studying and learning. Faculty can better customize lesson plans. Curriculum can be adjusted on the fly. Success can be accessible to all.