Verbal Response Assessment

Strong Verbal Response Assessment: The Difference Between Mind Reading and Mining for Evidence of Student Learning.

Who can tell me what the properties of Nitrogen are?” asked the teacher.

“Ooh, Ooh, I can,” enthusiastically responds a student with his raised hand. “It is a gas”.

“Yes… but that is not what I had in mind. Who else knows the answer to my question?”

Does this sound familiar? It happens in classrooms every day and is a typical way we determine where students are in their learning. But did this interaction really accomplish anything? Notice that the teacher allowed for the possibility of more than one plausible response. The students were left to guess what answer that the teacher was looking for. Further, without purpose, the use of this type of random verbal questioning did not provide the teacher or students with evidence about where each student is in their learning.

How can you be more intentional in your verbal questioning, and by doing so, be efficient in your use of precious classroom time? The new Designing Sound Assessment Module: Creating and Using Verbal Response Assessment was designed to help educators learn how.

Verbal response assessment requires that students construct an answer or perform, by speaking aloud. This can be as short as a one-word response all the way up to a speech or presentation. Readers of the module will learn how to plan, design, critique and use structured verbal response assessment as an essential classroom assessment tool.

Verbal response can, when designed and used well, provide teachers and students with evidence about where the student is in their learning. Verbal response has many benefits as it can be used to:

  • Measure a range of learning targets
  • Collect evidence of novice, intermediate and mastery learning
  • Understand students’ misconceptions
  • Plan focused instruction
  • Help students know where they are, where they are going, and how to close the gaps in their own learning
  • Offer and recruit effective feedback
  • Cultivate student ownership

And, thanks to its interactive nature, verbal response is an excellent tool for:

  • Exploring and developing deeper learning
  • Practicing vocabulary and word skills
  •  Practicing the arrangement of ideas in ways that underpin strong composition


I encourage you and your colleagues to learn more about the value of using verbal response assessment in your classrooms. I promise you will come away with a new appreciation for strategies we rely on frequently but have never had the opportunity to learn to use effectively.

Meaningful teaching and learning requires the collection and use of evidence mindfully designed to move student learning forward. Verbal response assessment should not require that students develop a superpower to read our minds and make us happy. That superpower is best left for Marvel comic heroes or—maybe my husband!

Verbal Response Assessment is now available to all Ohio educators. You can enroll here.