Assessment Thought, Jan 2010


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Memo outlining my thoughts on the new assessment categories at the end of one month.

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Assessment Thought, Jan 2010

  1. 1. Assessment thoughts Eric Castro I am currently working through grading the first Chapter test with the new assessment guidelines that Iʼve set for myself. A copy of the test and the marking system is attached. (K stands for Knowledge; A for Analysis; and C for Communication.) Using this system for marking & recording grades in EasyGrade Pro was remarkably easy for assignments such as a pop quiz (all of which focused on Knowledge), and it was even easy for a written assignment wherein students corrected their mistakes from the Fall Final (which had a significant portion of Knowledge items, and a few points for Communication, being a written document.) I have experienced a few difficulties as well as a few benefits that I had not considered over Christmas Break. Challenges Itʼs slow. I have been able to consistently get assignments graded and back to students the very next day; that was true when teaching 5 classes; that was true when coaching Debate; that was true when teaching 5 classes and coaching Debate; it has been true since 1998. This chapter test wonʼt get back to students until the second class meeting after the assessment. It took 9:39.2 for me to grade three of these Chapter tests. For me, thatʼs an eternity. The slow part was going back over the exam three different times at the end to calculate the studentʼs grade for each of the three components, Knowledge, Analysis, and Communication. Iʼm hoping that with practice I will get faster. Second, it took me longer to write this exam than previously. I did not time myself, but it felt longer — especially as I considered how many points each item would be worth, and whether that was a Knowledge or Analysis item. Of course, this translates into a benefit. Benefits I feel more focused, and when students get this test back, I think they will be able to focus their efforts more. • I felt more focused in writing the exam. A question might occur to me, but then as I tried to assign points to it, I realized that it did not fit into the rubric — and then I realized how unimportant the question was to the larger exam. • I feel more focused in my grading. I am able to assess whether a student demonstrated factual knowledge, and if so, give them points; and I feel more focused on their critical reasoning when I get to an Analysis item. • The types of assignments and grades that I give are more purposeful. On the first day back from Break, I was tempted to give everyone 1 point so that they would all have 100% in the class/ when they checked their grades online. As I went to enter the assignment in EasyGrade Pro, I realized that the point was for neither Knowledge, Analysis or Communication, and so I did not play with the points. Thatʼs exactly what it was: play — and that has no place in a gradebook.
  2. 2. • In grading this Chapter test, Iʼve noticed - and like - how some kids are still getting points on the exam for their Reasoning, even if they happened to get a fact wrong. In the past, these students wouldnʼt have gotten any points. I like this. Itʼs akin to a Math teacher giving partial credit to a student who followed the steps of a problem, but just happened to switch a sign or mess up a calculation. Iʼve also found, and liked, the inverse, where a student got points for a fact they knew, but lost points for not being able to discuss/ analyze the historical significance of it. Conclusion While more time consuming (now?), I feel the benefits are well worth the investment.