Good Assessment

Assessment Tools

I have used following assessment tools.

  1. Summary in blog post
  2. Reflective Journal
  3. Simulation guided exploration sheet
  4. Venn diagram
  5. Concept map,
  6. Conference

Please see my lesson design for details.  Moreover, I have included both formative and summative assessment activities in my lesson design. In addition, criteria for assessment are also outlined. I strongly believe that clear instructions about expectations are very important for success of students.  So I put learning goals in the beginning of lesson and include it with any summative assessment to make it clear to my students that what is expected of them.

Assessment Rationales

Blog posts and concepts maps are great tool to summarize reconstructed thoughts of students. In the internet-connect environment, students connect to information network and find relevant information. They “engage their social-connectedness schema in a set of behaviors that I describe as “link, lurk, and lunge”: Students link up with others who have the knowledge they need; they lurk, watching others who know how do to what they want to do; and they lunge, jumping in to try new things often without seeking guidance beforehand (Brown 2000). Their interaction with other creates more knowledge. Moreover, availablity of the reconstructed thoughts online leads to social evolution and increase our collective wisdom as mankind.

I consider following assessment thoughts very important in relation to my assessment strategies.

  • The purpose of all tasks in classroom should be to improve learning capacity of leaners.
  • Mistakes are essential for learning
  • Assessment is an ongoing, continuous process.

It is very important for a teacher to monitor student performance and provide feedback for effective learning to take place. Monitor students’ learning by utilizing pre- and post-assessments, providing timely and informative feedback, and reteaching material to students who did not achieve mastery. (Pamela D. Tucker and James H. Stronge). Moreover, “This is the value of the teacher, who looks at a face and says there’s something behind that and I want to reach that person, I want to influence that person, I want to encourage that person, I want to enrich, I want to call out that person who is behind that face, behind that color, behind that language, behind that tradition, behind that culture. I believe you can do it. I know what was done for me.” (Maya Angelou). Further considerations of assessment divide it into two main categories based on the purpose. “Primary purpose for grading . . . should be to communicate with students and parents about their achievement of learning goals .. .Secondary purposes for grading include providing teachers with information for instructional planning, . . .and providing teachers, administrators, parents, and students with information for . ..  placement of students. (Brookhart, 2004)

Assessment for learning

It is important to note that assessment is just not to record numerical marks in a grade book to decide failure or success of learners. One of the main goals should be to diagnose shortcomings of learners and suggest route to success by flaming the successes of learners. “Firm evidence shows that formative assessment is an essential component of classroom work and that its development can raise standards of achievement.  …. There are many ‘inputs’ to the classroom (the black box) …. but it is up to teachers to make the inside work better ….to ultimately help create quality outputs or to raise levels of achievement ….Formative assessment is at the heart of effective teaching” (Black & Wiliam ,1998)  Many researchers believe that effective teaching stimulates students’ curiosity and active learning, encourages their analytical, logical, and creative thinking and increases both their desire and capacity for future learning (Quicke, 1992; Hopkins,1999; Mills and Satterthwait, 2000). Assessment of learning helps teacher identify prior learning and help him adjust his teaching according to that.  When you reflect on your teaching you learn to think critically about your teaching (Korthagen, 2004) and it helps you regulate yourself (Singh, 2008). Teacher should create a dialogue with student about his achievement and provide route and mechanism to develop. Dialogue with students provides personalized experience and they understand that teacher cares and recognizes their success.  Students need to get a clear and loud message that “Failure and success are not episodes, they are trajectories.” (Kanter, 2004)

Failure to provide affective feedback will deteriorate learners’ self-efficacy and consequently they will put fewer efforts. “Expectations about the likelihood of eventual success determine the amount of efforts people put in. Those who are convinced that they can be successful in carrying out the actions required for successful outcome – who have the self-efficacy- are likely to try harder and persist longer when they face obstacles. (Kanter, 2004). Moreover, it is not mistake that cause winners to lose, it is panic. Panic is sudden, anxious feeling of loss of control and panicking can make a small fumble wore, by causing people to lose their heads and forget to think clearly. (Kanter, 2004)

Ruth Sutton advocates backward strategies in lesson design. She advises that teachers should identify one big goal for their lesson. Then they should identify evidence of learning. That should help to plan assessment activities to achieve that evidence. Finally, the teaching strategies should be designed to teach knowledge and skills to make them successful in those assessment activities. This backward planning is like planning chess game where one thinks before every move. Once this is done then things like homework can be assigned with different purpose. “Repurposing homework essentially means solidifying it as a formative exercise that focuses more on the process than the final result and on feedback for improvement rather than the accumulation of points and percentages. Repurposing homework is about introducing (or reinvigorating) the notion that practice is an essential part of learning: we focus on feedback and growth, (Schimmer, 2016)

Formative feedback on assessment for learning makes the biggest difference to students. It is most important for creating a dialogue with leaners. An affective feedback should be specific and constructive. Teacher should identify shortcoming and give feedback precisely to improve learning. The feedback should be descriptive rather than evaluative. Moreover, feedback should also suggest next step to improve. I agree with Kerrie’s idea that “assessment provides valuable information that we can use to determine the various knowledge and performance gaps that exist and we can then begin to consider the next “best steps”. (Kerrie, 2016) So assessment for learning helps us diagnose students’ shortcoming. At the same time, it also provides data to reflect on our teaching practices.  We should adjust our teaching to take into account results of assessment.  It should be about as fewer points as possible because if there are many things to improve then learner will be frustrated and subjugated by his shortcomings. All this can deteriorate his morale. Moreover, feedback should be connected to clear shared criteria. In addition, “description of the criteria against which students will be marked and the standards which they might expect to attain needs to be made explicit right at the start of the learning period.” (Hricko & Howell, 2006) This will encourage students to involve themselves in complex mental operations. In addition, students should be able to self-assess themselves based on the criteria. Another important factor for effective feedback is timeliness. Teacher should provide feedback as soon as possible so that students have enough time to act upon and improve. If it is delayed then students will have moved on to another task and their priorities will have changed. Thus feedback will become less effective.  Teacher should use formative feedback and should follow through next time to see how well learner has utilized the feedback.

Assessment of Learning (Summative)

Assessment of learning is mainly designed to collect evidence of learning for report cards. So target audience of outcome of this assessment is beyond the classroom. Moreover, it uses number, score and grades and is done periodically. “Teachers don’t need grades or reporting forms to teach well. Further, students don’t need them to learn.” (Thomas 1996)  There should be clear criterion or standards shared with students ahead of time. For example, evaluation page clearly defines criteria and weighting, which is very helpful as it allows me to check my work against expected level beforehand. So there are no surprises. With my own experience, I have found that clearer the criterion of assessment, better it is for students. It does not increase anxiety of students. Therefore rubrics are often used to guide students about expectations. Moreover, I use provide a checklist to my students before any summative assessment so that they know exactly what is going to be tested. Code of Practice of distributed learning of Bishop Grosseteste University suggests that students should be provided with a schedule for the delivery of the program including the times at which supporting materials will be made available and the dates by which any formative and summative assessment must be completed. Students should be aware well in advance of any scheduled events. For example, these might include seminars or discussion groups supported by video conferencing or synchronous on-line discussion.  In addition, assessment of learning should incorporate knowledge, skills and behavior. It should be valid, reliable, consistent and manageable.

Gregory recommends that “Don’t use grades punitively…Without exception, experts in the area of student grading recommend that grades not be used in a punitive sense. When a teacher uses grades as punishment for student behaviors, the teacher establishes an adversarial relationship in which grades are no longer meaningful to students as indicators of their accomplishments. The punitive use of grades only increases the likelihood that students will lose respect for the evaluation system; consequently the appeal to students of subverting such a system will be heightened.” (Cizek 2003)

Rationales of assessment tools:

Concept map, multiple choice quiz, blog post and videos were used for summative assessment in my lesson design.  All of these tools provide variety in assessment design.

Venn diagram, and grouping of information

Analyzing of bulk information is very important skill in modern times as we are all exposed to lot of raw data every day. “Humans may be predisposed to identifying certain patterns on the basis of their neurological makeup; these patterns, in fact, may be intrinsic qualities of mind.”  Kerr (2007a) We analyze the data, categorize the data and then make predictions based on analyzed patterns. Now days, concept of big data is haunting us as there are super computer, which collect all kind of data, find patterns, analyze the data and categorize it according to patterns. Students conduct experiments in lab, collect data, analyze and categorize it. Venn diagram is important tool for authentic assessment. It encourages higher order thinking skills as it requires students to group information based on identifiable patterns.

  1. Venn diagram increase student abilities to organize represent and connect their thoughts and learning.
  2. it drives more complex instructional methods
  3. It helps student look for patterns and develop inductive reasoning skills.
  4. It provides students experience of identifying critical relationships for grouping data.
  5. It helps students to make sense of information.
  6. It helps students meaningfully grasps constructs the concept.
  7. It provides a visual display of learning 。
  8. It encourages students to involve themselves in complex mental operations.
  9. It encourages thinking at the analysis and evolution level of bloom taxonomy.

YouTube and Concept map

I used YouTube for reaction type topic. Students get to watch many types of reaction and they categorize. So YouTube provided variety of random data for students to analyze and categorize. Then the data they collected was used to make concept map of types of reaction. Here are some rationales for using YouTube and concept map. Later on, same source of data was used for summative assessment. Which minimizes any surprises for students as it is consistent with their earlier formative assessment tasks.

 

  1. YouTube provided lot of video data for students. It is simply impossible at school level to have that much variety of experiments conducted. Students watch those video and find patterns.
  2. Concept maps drives more complex instructional methods
  3. Concept maps help student look for patterns and develop inductive reasoning skills.
  4. Concept maps provide students experience of identifying critical relationships for grouping data.
  5. Concept maps help students to make sense of information.
  6. Concept maps help students meaningfully grasp and constructs the concept.
  7. Concept maps provide a visual display of learning 。
  8. Concept maps encourage students to involve themselves in complex mental operations.
  9. Concept maps encourage thinking at the analysis and evolution level of bloom taxonomy.

 

Blog Posts

The blog can be used to develop higher order thinking. “In online learning, formative and summative assessment are ideally interwoven into a form of continuous assessment—each assignment building upon the former, with dialogue and formative feedback from one providing a scaffolding for students to develop their understanding and contributing to the quality of the next assessment task” (Hogan & Pressley, 1998.) Moreover, formative feedback “provides opportunities for teachers to maximize their role as facilitators of learning rather than just examiners of achievement.”  Blogging was used to generate discussion and to promote student-student interactions.  Learning is social and academic so students present their ideas. Other students read, rephrase and comment about things that they liked or they have question about.  “This peer review process would allow each student to learn the process of applying assessment criteria and providing constructive feedback in regards to the central elements of performance or understanding.” (Hricko & Howell, 2006) Moreover, “students may also benefit from cross-cultural dialogue that can bring global perspectives to their learning from across a diversity of geographic locations (Rimmington, O’Reilly, Gibson, & Gordon, 2003). I had following goals in mind for blogging system as a tool for teaching.

  1. Teach Collaborative Skills
  2. Process Academic and Social Learning
  3. Employ Positive Interdependence
  4. Applies individual accountability
  5. Encourages student to accept and extend ideas of others
  6. Foster disagreeing in an agreeable way
  7. Promotes active listening
  8. Teach collaborative skills
    1. Social Skills
    2. Communication Skills
    3. Critical Thinking Skills

Virtual Tour and Simulation

Seeing is believing and picture worth one thousand words. This is even more important for science related contents because atoms or molecules that we often talk about are too small to visualize.  Consequently students have very blurry picture of atoms and molecules in their mind. Simulations have made learning easy by showing 3D view. For example, a history teacher can take students to virtual tour of ancient Egypt. Virtual tour to ancient Egypt can greatly enhance student understanding. Sometime people have some physiological problem that prohibits them from having hand-on experience of something. For instance, some people are afraid of water so they dare not to experience under water marine environment. Virtual tour to undersea environment can teach them and may help to overcome their fear.  Similarly, flux of people in some place may have negative impact on the structure of building so virtual tours can help know more about that structure without any adverse effect on the building. Moreover, it is dangerous to visit some place like insect infested or high intensity radiation areas. Here are some key benefits of virtual tour and simulation. In 21st century, students are much more clued up with gadgets. So they tend to learn lot more from interaction with technology. Moreover, virtual reality systems can be combined with traditional face-to-face teaching to provide blended learning experience.

  1. Student experience the virtual immersive effect and enjoy the experience
  2. It encourages participation as students engage more readily with virtual reality.
  3. It provides variety in instructional design.
  4. It engages efficiently and thus overcomes issue of limited attention spans.
  5. It helps with understanding complex theories/concepts

Weili and Tom identified following key benefits of virtual field trips.

  1. Integrate diverse types of data in instantly available Ways.
  2. Present images from a variety of viewpoints and at many different scales.
  3. Display non-visual data (geochemistry, etc.)
  4. Helpful for presenting trips to inaccessible areas
  • Provide an alternative of fieldwork, when time, expenses, and/or logistics are real issues
  • Enable presentation of extensive field trips and great variety of landform diversity
  • Enhance and expand students’ experience
  • Enable flexibility of access (time and place)
  • Provides a repeatable experience which can be used to reinforce concepts in class
  • Provides an easily experienced preview or review of real field trips
  • Offer rich resources of learning and teaching
  • Interesting and attractive to students and an alternative experience for users

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