What is Checking for Understanding?
Checking for Understanding (CFU) is the backbone of effective instruction. Checking for Understanding is the teacher continually verifying that students are learning what is being taught while it is being taught. CFU provides the teacher the opportunity to improve learning based on student responses throughout the teaching and learning process. Using CFU in “real-time” allows teachers to make crucial instructional decisions as necessary (like re-teaching) during lesson delivery.
Research behind Checking for Understanding
According to the article Principles of Instruction: Research-Based Strategies that All Teachers Should Know by emeritus professor of education Barak Rosenshine (American Educator, Spring 2012, effective instruction asks questions and checks responses of all students in order to help students practice new information and connect new material to their prior knowledge.
The article suggests that to practice new information, teachers must ask students questions while they are teaching. In a classroom-based experiment, a group of teachers was asked to increase the number of factual questions and process questions during guided practice. The results of this experiment showed that students who had these teachers achieved higher scores than students whose teachers did not ask multiple questions. Also, teachers who asked a large number of questions had higher student participation. Furthermore, teachers were able to assess if the students understood the content, which allowed the teachers to make modifications of the lesson or reteach when necessary.
Rosenshine observed that successful teachers found ways to involve all students in answering questions. Examples include having all students:
- Tell the answer to a neighbor
- Summarize the main idea in one or two sentences, writing the summary on a piece of paper and sharing this with a neighbor
- Writing an answer on a card and then holding it up
- Raising their hands if they agree with the answer that someone else has given
The National Research Council recommends implementing formative (on-going) assessments such as checking for understanding in order to improve instruction. The National Research Council frames such assessment as the process of teaching scientifically:
Teachers collect information about students’ understanding almost continuously, and make adjustments to their teaching on the basis of their interpretation of that information. They observe critical incidents in the classroom, formulate hypotheses about the causes of those incidents, question students to test their hypotheses, interpret students’ responses, and adjust their teaching plans.
Why is Checking for Understanding so beneficial?
Using research-based strategies, the DataWORKS Explicit Direct Instruction model incorporates Checking for Understanding during a lesson because:
- It allows the teacher to make instructional decisions during the lesson. It informs the teacher when to speed up, slow down, or re-teach. CFU helps pace the lesson.
- When teachers look at independent work, homework, quizzes, or state test results to see if students learned…it’s too late to modify instruction.
- CFU is the back bone of effective instruction and Explicit Direct Instruction… because you measure and monitor student learning in real time.
- CFU guarantees high student success (80-100%)… because you revise teaching in direct response to student learning.
- CFU ensures that your students will not be practicing and reinforcingtheirmistakes. Practice makes permanent, not perfect!
Barak Rosenshine, Principles of Instruction: Research-Based Strategies that All Teachers Should Know
Great blog and a great reminder to all that we need to constantly “teach with our eyes open.” It is only when we employ strategies like Patricia describes here that we can make real time adjustments in our teaching. This is the crux of differentiation and effective first instruction for all students! Bravo!
Going off of the previous cnemmot discussion, how do you feel about a very shy, introverted student attempting to get the same sort of information from a teacher as an open and outgoing one? I myself am not a very good speaker, and am very introverted to say the least. In fact, I have some major social phobias which have led me to skipping classes altogether for fear of being called on. For some people this makes sense if you are unprepared, but I typically am up on all my work to the best of my abilities. In response to your video, do you agree with how school systems function with normal test procedures? I find studying specifically for a test is rather self-defeating to actually learning something. If everything not on the test is thrown aside, and a person is really only studying for a good grade, then nothing is really be learned (and more importantly, retained).
Thank you for your comments, Necati. You have brought out some very good concerns and questions regarding the shy student in a classroom. Here are some tips on how Checking for Understanding encourages and builds confidence for introverted students.
Pair-Share allows the time to process and discuss information with a partner before possibly presenting responses to the class. This time allows the students to prepare and check their response with a peer, which will minimize stress and embarrassment for the shy child.
Sentence frames help provide a safe environment for shy students. The sentence frame helps the student form their response because they are applying the information the teacher just gave and taught them.
Whiteboards are an alternative way to encourage the shy student to participate in the classroom. Writing down the response to a question will gradually build the child’s confidence because the child is not singled out.
Please refer to DataWORKS blog for future information regarding introverted students.
Chris social phiboa might work in your advantage (if done right). Approaching a teacher, I’m usually a very shy student. I’ve even skipped classes because I was afraid to be called on but I have was hoping you could help me out? Currently, there’s a lot not working in the school system (normal test procedures included). I’m doing what I can to through it. You can read more about it in this .
CFU..Checking for understanding is very very important in my Auto shop. I make sure they understand so everyone they are working with will be safe. If they do not understand we continue to talk until they all understand so everyone will be safe and know what could happen if they do not follow the correct procedures of doing the Lab work.