Checking For Understanding

Educator checks for understanding throughout lessons to ensure students have mastered discrete concepts that build up to the larger objective.
Made by Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Learning at USD
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Graduate-level credit is available for this micro-credential. You can apply for credit through one of our university partners after successfully completing the micro-credential.
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About this Micro-credential

Key Method

Educator performs multiple checks for understanding and uses student feedback to inform instruction.

Method Components

Suggested preparation and implementation strategies for performing checks for understanding

  • Review the lesson ahead of time and identify places where students may get stuck.
  • Determine places in the lesson where you will check for understanding.
  • During the lesson, invite students to indicate an answer that reflects whether or not they understand key content.

Some examples of checks for understanding strategies

  • Whiteboards: Invite students to write answers on whiteboards or index cards and display them when prompted. Invite a student with a correct answer to explain his or her thinking.
  • Four Corners: Designate each corner of the room as an answer. Invite students to walk to the appropriate corner to indicate their answers. Invite the groups to explain how they came to their answers.
  • Think, Pair, Share: Teach students the protocol for Think, Pair, Share exercises. Listen to students’ answers as they share with their partners.
  • Digital Poll: If the tools are available, poll students through digital programs (i.e., Poll Everywhere, Kahoot, or Socrative). Invite students to defend their answers and explain their thinking.
  • Round the Room: Invite each student to give a one- to five-word answer to a prompt.
  • Quick write: Invite students to write a short paragraph on a given prompt.
  • Conference: Check in with students individually throughout the lesson to understand their thinking.
  • Give one, get one: Invite students to write a response to a prompt and then meet with another student and share ideas; the goal is for each student to leave with something to add to their list of ideas.

If the check for understanding indicates reteaching the content is necessary, then use further checks for understanding to inform how teaching can be modified or differentiated to improve understanding and retention of information.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

  • Shepard, Lorrie A. "The Role of Assessment in Learning Culture." Educational Researcher 29.7 (October 2000): 4–14,

    In order for assessment to play a more useful role in helping students learn it should be moved into the middle of the teaching and learning process instead of being postponed as only the end-point of instruction. Dynamic assessment finding out what a student is able to do independently as well as what can be done with adult guidance-is integral to Vygotsky's idea of a zone of proximal development.


Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

To earn this micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1 and 3 and an Exemplary score for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview question

(300-word limit)

  • Describe the systems and strategies you used to check for understanding throughout the lesson.

Part 2. Work examples/artifacts

Submit artifacts that were created while developing procedures for checking for understanding (such as links to writing, audio, images, video, or other products), including such items as:

  • Annotated videos or photos from lessons that include frequent checks for understanding
  • Lesson plans with planned instances to check for understanding

Part 3. Reflection

Provide a reflection on what you learned using the following question as guidance (300-word limit):

  • How has checking student understanding allowed you to adjust lessons to meet students’ needs? Moving forward, how might your practice change as a result of what you have learned?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


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How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

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