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Classroom Assessment Techniques
Attitude Surveys

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Cartoon image of a kitty cat.  Cat is animated on mouse over with the word C-A-T appearing. Eileen Lewis
Department of Chemistry
Caņada College

Elaine Seymour
Bureau of Sociological Research
University of Colorado, Boulder

Eileen Lewis

"Early in my teaching career, I noticed that students could memorize equations, solve problems, and even use terms fairly correctly. However, further questioning revealed that students' knowledge was pretty shallow...I changed the assessments of students' understanding - emphasizing making sense of phenomena, connecting ideas, and giving explanations...Students knew they had to understand the concepts, not just be able to parrot them back..."

This type of survey provides valuable information on student perceptions of their classroom experience. This includes general attitudes toward the course, the discipline, and their own learning. The results from this survey can also help you identify elements in your course which best support student learning.

While attitudinal surveys may take many forms and address a range of issues, they typically consist of a series of statements that students are asked to express their agreement or disagreement (using a scale.)


Instructor Preparation Time: Very little time is needed to use a valid, existing survey. Large amounts of time are required to develop a survey that is reliable and measures what is intended.
Preparing Your Students: No training is required, but a description of the survey's goals and scales should be read to students as well as included in the survey form itself.
Class Time: Varies with length, but rarely more than 20 minutes.
Disciplines: Appropriate for all.
Class Size: Appropriate for all.
Special Classroom/Technical Requirements: None, although an optical scanning device may be useful to read and analyze data in large classes.
Individual or Group Involvement: Typically individual.
Analyzing Results: Depends very much on class size and length of the survey. In large classes, the use of scanning forms and optical readers makes the task easier.
Other Things to Consider: To insure meaningful results, student responses must be guaranteed anonymity. These surveys can be given pre and post to measure gains over a course or to provide mid-course corrections to classroom teaching methods. Demographic data may be included in the survey so that correlation with gender, major, or ethnicity can be made.

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