Learning Snapshots: What? Why? How?

“Teaching without learning is just talking."
—Patricia Cross and Thomas Angelo Classroom Assessment Techniques (1993)

What are Learning Snapshots?

Learning Snapshots are very quick, simple activities that give you a picture of what your students know, what they are learning or doing in class, and where they need more support. Learning Snapshots are also called "classroom assessment techniques." There are many different types of Learning Snapshots. For specific examples of see A Dozen Learning Snapshots.

Why should we use Learning Snapshots?

It can take less than five minutes to do a Learning Snapshot and there's nothing to grade, nothing to prepare and everything to gain. Besides being fast and easy tools for giving feedback, they can give your students additional strategies for learning and help involve them in the learning process itself.

Use Learning Snapshots to:

  • Provide instant feedback about students' understanding.
  • Help students monitor their own learning. 
  • Gather anonymous information. 
  • Create a student-centered learning environment.

How to we use Learning Snapshots?

Use them at anytime during the semester to determine how well the students are learning and where they need more help. Use Learning Snapshots by breaking up your lectures or demos into smaller pieces and checking in to see how students are doing along the way. Learning Snapshots can be an on-going process in your classroom.

Learning snapshots in on-line courses

Use or adapt any of the snapshots from A Dozen Learning Snapshots for your online classes, as well. First, explain to students that during the course you will e-mail individual Learning Snapshots to get a quick look at how students are learning. Let students know that they are required to respond to Learning Snapshots but their responses won’t be graded. As students respond individually, notice patterns of confusion or misunderstandings and address them in the discussion section of your course.