Check for Student Understanding: 21 Ways

The goal of teaching is to teach. But that is often hard to do when you need to cover a lot of material and don’t have much time to do it. You start talking about everything instead and hope for the best. You hope they understand the ideas and concepts you are trying to get them to remember. When it is time for the exams, you keep your fingers crossed that they score high on the tests and show you that you have done an excellent job. 

But tests are not always a reliable way to gauge understanding. Are you taking the time to check if there is anything they do not understand? Rethink the way you approach this, then. Instead, always check if they got the lessons right. Here are 21 ways to do it effectively. 

No Yes/No Questions 

Ask pointed questions instead. Students should use their prior knowledge. That’s one way to check if your students at the Global Indian International School understand the lesson. 


Before you end the class, ask them to reflect on the material you covered today and write whatever their realizations are. How will they apply the skill or concept in a given situation or practical setting?


A short quick can help you check their level of comprehension on the subject. 


Ask them to make a summary of the lesson. That, or to talk about the concepts or ideas you covered in their own words. You can ask them to do this visually or through another writing exercise. 

Hand Signals 

Hand signals can be used to rate or test a student’s level of understanding. Ask them to show five fingers, for instance, if they understand the lessons. However, this requires that you have a fully engaged class first. If you do, then get response devices in place so you can note down the responses of every kid in your class.

Response Cards

These are index cards or signs or whiteboards—you can also use magnetic boards or any other item that all your students can hold up simultaneously—to show you their response. A response device will make it easier for you to record all their answers. 

Four Corners

The method allows you to check and monitor understanding. They can move to one side of the class or room to indicate “strongly agree” or to the other side for “strongly disagree” to whatever observation you make about the lesson. 


Students pair up with a designated partner to compare thoughts. Then they’ll share what they learned with the rest of the class. 

Choral Reading

Ask every student to read a marked text along with you. The exercise improves fluency and reading helps improve understanding

One Question Quiz 

Ask everyone to focus on a single question with a specific goal in mind. Set the time to a second or two. Scan the responses to see if their understanding of the concept is good or not. 

Socratic Seminar

Ask the students to ask each other questions about a topic or selected text. That should initiate a conversation and generate additional questions, all of which should show if they understood the lesson or not. 


The numbers stand for questions: 3) what your students learned, 2) things they want to know more about, and 1) any questions they have. Use the prompt often after every lesson, and it’ll make your students automatically think of these three things. 

Journal Reflections 

Ask your students to write down their reflections in a journal—or if you’re doing online classes—an online journal. What made the lesson difficult for them? What strategies were helpful? This will help you identify any misunderstandings or misconceptions that you can correct. 

Misconception Check

Make a list of common or predictable misconceptions about the topic. Present that in class and ask them to agree or disagree and to explain why. 

Analogy Prompt 

“The concept being covered is like…” that’s how the prompt goes. It helps kids think of the lessons in terms of what they already know. 


Check for understanding at least three times every time you teach a new lesson. Make it a habit. It will train your students to self-assess too. 


Vary up your teaching style and techniques. That way, the kids won’t be bored. They also won’t be able to predict the way you’ll test their understanding, which should keep them on their toes. 


The true test of the lesson is whether they are able to apply the concepts to real-life situations. Ask them to do that. They could present an experiment in class or in your online sessions. 


Get one student to try and teach another student about the lesson. If the lesson was successfully taught, then you know you did a good job teaching your class. 

By using these tips, you can improve student understanding every single time. 

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