Creative ways to assess maths understanding

Authentic assessment should not just revolve around a student’s ability to solve a mathematical problem but should focus more on the process of gathering data to understand the strengths and weaknesses of student learning.

Multiple-choice tests are unable to reflect the exact ability of a student to memorize. This is why an accurate maths assessment test has to be developed which can identify the various problem-solving skills the students have learned and how to incorporate them into their own lives.

Here are some creative ways to assess the student’s understanding of a concept and their way of thinking.

Try reflective journaling  

Writing can be a very powerful way of learning as it engages all the hemispheres of the brain. Journals, magazines, newspapers or even blogs can be helpful for a student to display maths concepts. This is a creative method of assessment for students to show how they can apply mathematics to the real world.

Use familiar tech tools

When asking students routinely to solve a number of equations, break down the problem instead and ask them how to arrive at a solution. Students can then choose to keep a record of their work in Google docs, either through video or a snapshot.

Take interview assessments

A face-to-face interaction is a wonderful alternative for those students who struggle to show what they know during class tests. A five minutes interview assessment should be enough to gauge a student’s progress. It works well for kids who know a lot more than what they reflected by traditional assessment and in turn gives them multiple opportunities to display their proficiency.

Create a mistake-friendly classroom

Embrace mistakes across all academic subjects in the classroom, especially maths, as this is the most anxiety causing subject for students. Normalising errors and asking students to tackle problems that have been purposely solved incorrectly, will assist students to identify mistakes and figure out best how to rectify them.


Once the teacher has clearly clarified the expectations from students prior to project work, the students should then be asked to evaluate their own work and participation. Students will be able to assess themselves better by responding to the following questions:

  • Which part of the project you found the most difficult?
  • What should be your next course of action?
  • If you were given an opportunity to redo the same task, would you do anything differently? If yes, then what?
  • What did you gain from this project?

Short investigations

A short investigation typically should start with solving a basic maths problem. This will show how well a student has mastered the concepts and skills. Teachers should then ask the students to interpret what they have analysed. These short tasks should generally be of 69-90 minutes duration for a group or an individual, where they have to work independently, write the answers to the questions and then get interviewed separately.

Grade level assessments help gauge the strengths and weaknesses of each student, and can be adjusted accordingly to improve student learning and performance.

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