Using GIST Statements for Summary of Learning Content

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The goal of a GIST statement is to write a summary in a given amount of words (i.e 20 words, 15 words, 10 words). GIST is an acronym that stands for: Generating Interactions between Schemata and Texts (Cunningham, 1982; Herrell, 2000). The instructor can determine the amount of words when writing the GIST statement. Having a student summarize what a student has learned is an effective way to formatively assess a student’s understanding of the content. Formative assessment is defined as assessment carried out during the instructional process for the purpose of improving teaching or learning…What makes formative assessment formative is that it is immediately used to make adjustments so as to form new learning” (Shepard, 2008, p. 281).

GIST statements can be used in online learning in a variety of ways. Instructors can use the GIST statements after each course chapter of a text or module and the students simply submit the work to be graded (see attached rubric for grading a GIST statement). File:Rubric for GIST Statements.pdf

Instructors can also assign the reading and students write their GIST statements and upload them into a discussion forum in the course. The instructor can pose a question in order for them to respond to peers: What did your peer consider that you did not consider in your GIST statement? Instructors can also have the students write key facts about the assigned reading or perhaps even using a video. The students then can write their GIST statement from the key details they wrote, as well.

Link to example artifact(s)

  • Instructor: Dr. Angela J. Danley
  • Course Title: Communication Arts Integration

Dr. Danley has her students in the Communication Arts Integration Course use a graphic organizer as a way to help the students guide and organize their thinking in order to write the GIST statement. Dr. Danley has her students engage in an online discussion centered around a prompt (see attached example).

File:Student example.pdf

File:Graphic Organizer.pdf

Link to scholarly reference(s)

Cunningham, J. (1982). Generating interactions between schemata and text. In J. A. Niles & L. A. Harris (Eds.), New inquiries in reading research and instruction (pp. 42–47). Washington, DC: National Reading Conference.

Herrell, A. L. (2000). Fifty strategies for teaching English language learners. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice-Hall.

Shepard, L. A. (2008). Formative assessment: Caveat emptor. In C. A. Dwyer (Ed.). The future of assessment: shaping teaching and learning (pp. 279-303). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.


Danley, A. (2015). Using gist statements for summary of learning content. In B. Chen & K. Thompson (Eds.), Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Center for Distributed Learning.

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