The Work Matters

A Guide for New Faculty Teaching at City Tech


Good teaching requires leaps of imagination. The professor, with expert knowledge and skills, must imagine what the novice perceives, understands, and feels. Although there may be well-defined stages or steps in learning, each novice engages the learning uniquely. Teaching is about knowing the material, knowing the students, and designing experiences to enable those students to master the material or acquire the skills.

Done well, assessment can illuminate the process. Assessment is often spoken of as formative, which is done during instruction to improve the process, or summative, the final evaluation that tells us how much the student has learned and how well we have taught. Good formative assessment helps us—and in many cases, the students—to see what is happening and enables us to advance the learning. Good summative assessment points up where it might be most productive to consider making changes or improvements in our approach.

Bonne August, Provost March 2010 Nucleus: A Faculty Commons Quarterly Volume 1 – Issue 3

Designing Assignments & Exams

Fair Tests

A fair test will show:

  • How well the material is being taught
  • Where changes and corrections need to be made
  • The level of ability and effort of the students.


Designing Tests

Key concepts to designing tests (Reed, 2002) include. Good test questions:

  • Address course objectives, material taught in class, and important skills and concepts
  • Provide complete, consistent, and unambiguous instructions
  • Present only one correct answer when only is called for
  • Are easy for all students to understand
  • Do not emphasize the trivial and do not ‘trick’ the students


Traditional Assessment Tests

Traditional Assessment Tests:

  • Ask students to select from or identify specific information
  • Are appropriate for testing the lower learning levels of awareness and understanding
  • Are easy to score because the correct answers are predetermined and the students can work only within the narrow context of the question, and
  • Are more difficult to create but easier to grade than Alternative Assessment tests (Reed, 2002, p. 34).
Alternative Assessment Tests

Alternative Assessment Tests:

  • Ask a general question that requires the student to develop the correct response from in-depth knowledge or experience
  • Are used to test the student’s ability to recall, organize, conceptualize, apply concepts, and solve problems
  • Range from a short answer (a few sentences) to an essay (several paragraphs)
  • Require the instructor to know the whole range of possible responses and to evaluate the completeness and correctness of the response (Reed, 2002, p. 34).
Oral Tests

Oral tests are sometimes used for students:

  • Who do not respond well to written tests
  • Have a language deficiency
  • To determine how well a student understands a subject area, when interactivity and clarification are a necessary part of the exam process.


Testing Psychomotor Skills

Psychomotor skills, the ability to perform physical activities, are based on performance or behavior should be used when there are no other valid means of determining if the student has developed the appropriate level of knowledge and behavior for a required physical performance.

  • These tests are time-consuming;
  • They will require physical resources;
  • They will require a knowledge of the use of safety equipment and procedures;
  • There is a need for a consistent, documented, and observable method to evaluate performance, such as a checklist (Reed, 2002, p. 34).
Peer Review Grading

An alternative view of grading: Let the students be in charge. Grading students’ work is one of the least favorite parts of teaching. In a 2009 posting of Inside Higher Ed, Jaschik reports on instructors who love teaching and hate grading and offers the following innovative ways of handling grading.

Let the students know on the first day how you will be grading.

New Point System

  • Do all the work – get an A
  • Don’t care about an A? Don’t have time to do the work? Check the chart
  • Do the assignment satisfactorily, get the points. Add up the points, that’s the grade.
  • Student is responsible for the grade.


Student Self-Evaluation of Discussion

Tip: Student Self-Evaluation of Discussion Participation (Brookfield & Presskill, 2007)

  • Distribute these questions to participants and have them complete these. Discuss with participants whether you as the instructor will see the students’ responses. The questionnaires are to be completed anonymously.
  • What ideas, questions or information did I contribute to the discussion today?
  • How did I try to encourage another student to speak today?
  • What did I learn from the discussion today? (New information, a new understanding of something already covered, an idea to follow up after the discussion, etc.)
  • How did I make connections between what different people were saying today?
Statement of Academic Integrity

Students and all others who work with information, ideas, texts, images, music, inventions, and other intellectual property owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York and at New York City College of Technology and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion. The complete text of the University policy on Academic Integrity may be found in the catalog.

City Tech’s Academic Integrity Policy Manual

Dreyfuss, A.E., Jordan, J., Rajaram, K., Caka, M. (2014). (2nd Ed.). The work matters:
A guide for new faculty teaching at City Tech. New York City College of Technology, CUNY.
Online at

Faculty Commons

The Work Matters: A guide for new faculty teaching at City Tech. New York City College of Technology, CUNY by A.E. Dreyfuss is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.