An Overview of Assessment Design


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An overview of constructivist assessment design, including philosophy and practical tips.

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An Overview of Assessment Design

  1. 1. A PHILOSOPHY OF ASSESSMENT (and evaluation) Peter Gow
  2. 3. Assessment IS curriculum (and vice versa)
  3. 4. Why assess? <ul><li>Assessment has several purposes, listed here in order of importance: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To improve student learning , by giving students meaningful feedback on their mastery of skills and content knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To improve teaching , by providing teachers with a means of measuring and/or describing individual and aggregate student learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To facilitate communication about ongoing learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To audit student performance </li></ul></ul>
  4. 5. What does assessment look like? <ul><li>Assessment is a broad range of methods and techniques . A few examples: </li></ul><ul><li>elaborate long-term, interdisciplinary, collaborative projects </li></ul><ul><li>essays </li></ul><ul><li>paper-and-pencil quizzes </li></ul><ul><li>standardized multiple-choice tests </li></ul><ul><li>The assessments you use should be based on the skill(s) or knowledge that you mean to assess. </li></ul>
  5. 6. How would you? <ul><li>Assess students’ knowledge of the parts of a cell </li></ul><ul><li>Assess students’ understanding of how the parts of a cell function </li></ul><ul><li>Assess students’ understanding of the functions of the three branches of the United States government </li></ul><ul><li>Assess students’ ability to read and understand a novel in Spanish </li></ul><ul><li>Assess students’ mastery of a list of vocabulary words </li></ul>
  6. 7. Or? <ul><li>Assess students’ understanding of Chinese culture </li></ul><ul><li>Assess students’ ability to solve equations containing inequalities </li></ul><ul><li>Assess students’ ability to apply the mathematical notion of “inequality” to a real-world situation </li></ul><ul><li>Assess students’ understanding of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s </li></ul><ul><li>Assess students’ readiness to study calculus </li></ul>
  7. 8. Or? <ul><li>Assess students’ ability to understand a graph </li></ul><ul><li>Assess students’ ability to write persuasively </li></ul><ul><li>Assess students’ intellectual curiosity </li></ul><ul><li>Assess students’ ability to make connections between the film American Beauty and The Great Gatsby (the book, of course) </li></ul><ul><li>Assess whether your students understand the utility of the binomial theorem </li></ul>
  9. 10. Effective assessment <ul><li>INTENTIONALLY FOCUSES ON WHAT MATTERS : It asks students to present evidence of the important learning you want to have taken place. </li></ul><ul><li>“Assess what you value; value what you assess”—Grant Wiggins. </li></ul>
  10. 11. Effective assessment <ul><li>HAS NO SECRETS : It begins with a clear statement of the things being assessed and the criteria by which assessment is being made; these should (of course) match the important learning goals. </li></ul><ul><li>PROVIDES FEEDBACK : It gives the student clear direction as to how to improve future performance, and it gives the teacher information with regard to individual and group learning. </li></ul>
  11. 12. Effective assessment <ul><li>CONNECTS AUTHENTICALLY TO CONTENT : The work asked for addresses plausible and authentic problems or questions that relate to the desired learning. The more “real” the problem, the more engaged students are likely to become. </li></ul><ul><li>FITS THE LEARNING : The method matches the type of learning you want to have taken place; you wouldn’t assess a student’s French accent by means of a written quiz. </li></ul>
  12. 13. Effective assessment <ul><li>IS FAIR : The method is designed to give each student an equal opportunity to succeed. </li></ul><ul><li>IS SAFE : The method is designed to encourage questioning and risk-taking. </li></ul><ul><li>IS CREDIBLE : The method is designed to relate in a clear and explicable fashion to the total learning experience. </li></ul>
  13. 14. Effective assessment <ul><li>IS VARIED : It comes in a variety of flavors for each unit, topic, or course. The broader the range of assessments given, the more complete and useful a picture of learning will be developed—and the greater the range of individual student strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles that will be tapped and revealed. </li></ul>
  14. 15. Effective assessment <ul><li>IS TIMELY : Evaluation takes place close to the learning experience, and feedback and critique are received in a time frame that allows students to use it to improve performance. </li></ul><ul><li>IS MANAGEABLE : The average human teacher can use it in a timely and effective fashion; writing may be a valuable skill, but the solution to every math problem 1-29 (odd) doesn’t need to be presented in essay form. </li></ul>
  15. 16. Effective assessment <ul><li>Follows a trajectory based on the cognitive complexity of the learning being assessed. Use the ASSESS-O-MATIC to plan the assessment tasks for a unit or to design a text or examination based on an ascending hierarchy of complexity. </li></ul>
  17. 18. AUTHENTIC ASSESSMENT: Engage students and raise the stakes <ul><li>Write a letter to…(and mail it) </li></ul><ul><li>Field study…(find a consulting expert) </li></ul><ul><li>Imagine you are … Solve this problem… </li></ul><ul><li>Debates… (bring in an outside judge) </li></ul><ul><li>Write for or present to an actual audience (parents, outsiders, peers) </li></ul><ul><li>Community role play (“Our town/school has to solve the problem of…”) </li></ul>
  18. 19. More reflective assessment <ul><li>Portfolios —gather a student’s work, use it as the basis for improvement, ask the student to reflect; invite an audience (parents, advisor) to share the reflection </li></ul><ul><li>Regular self-assessment modules or exercises at the end of each topic, unit, or term—written or conference-based </li></ul><ul><li>HINT: Use your stated criteria—your “standards”—as the basis for this self-assessment. </li></ul>
  19. 20. PERFORMANCE STANDARDS <ul><li>These are the criteria by which the quality of student learning will be assessed: </li></ul><ul><li>What will this learning look like ? </li></ul><ul><li>What will be good evidence of this learning? </li></ul><ul><li>What will excellent performance look like? </li></ul><ul><li>HINT: Ask your students for help!! (“What are the characteristics of an excellent essay/math homework/oral presentation?”) </li></ul><ul><li>ALSO: Check out the Parker “Criteria for Excellence”—great language to use! </li></ul>
  20. 21. RUBRICS in two slides <ul><li>Evaluation rubrics are a tool combining stated standards for LEVELS of performance with clearly delineated CATEGORIES of performance </li></ul><ul><li>E.g., </li></ul><ul><li>They show students what excellent work is supposed to look like and tell them what parts of the work are important </li></ul>
  21. 22. Rubrics are <ul><li>Easy to create--ask your students to describe excellent work or to tell you what should be important on a certain kind of work </li></ul><ul><li>Easy to use--they save time and eliminate some decision-making about what matters </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Danger! Posters, videos, … </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Great ways to give clear, specific feedback to students--and they help the teacher see what is working, as well </li></ul>
  22. 23. Why grades? <ul><li>To provide a record of student performance </li></ul><ul><li>To provide evidence of a progression of learning </li></ul><ul><li>To sort out a student’s performance against a standard </li></ul><ul><li>To give students FEEDBACK on their performance </li></ul>
  23. 24. Weighting grades <ul><li>Give a piece of work a weight proportionate to its relative degree of importance and difficulty </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Quizzes worth less than tests </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Big projects worth more than homework </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use simple grading system (check, check-plus) for simple work </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Take a tip from your college professors, and assign specific weights in advance </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t forget to weigh in class participation </li></ul>
  24. 25. Just for Middle School… <ul><li>The dreaded grid: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Think of a “standard”--what you want students to be able to do </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Then think of how to describe progress toward that standard: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Beginning </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Working </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Approaching </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Meeting </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and at last, “Proficient” </li></ul></ul>
  25. 26. Rubrics to grades <ul><li>Top level of performance = A </li></ul><ul><li>Satisfactory but nothing special = C(+) </li></ul><ul><li>Really unsatisfactory = NP </li></ul><ul><li>Not usually a mathematical equivalency--12/16 may not = 75% or C; may be closer to B- </li></ul><ul><li>You gotta do what works for you </li></ul><ul><li>The 16-point rubric trick </li></ul>
  26. 27. Keeping a grade book <ul><li>Your gradebook is PRIVATE </li></ul><ul><li>Your gradebook should allow plenty of space to describe performance tasks and to keep track of each student’s grades </li></ul><ul><li>If using a paper gradebook, skip lines between kids </li></ul><ul><li>Consider keeping a more descriptive kind of record--a notebook with a page for each student; comment on work alonmg with grading it </li></ul>
  27. 28. “Averages” <ul><li>If you use a spreadsheet or “electronic grade book,” make sure you have an escape clause--just because a number was arrived at by a computer calculation doesn’t mean that number is “true” or objective--because the grades you entered are subjective </li></ul><ul><li>Remember the “feedback” function--grades send a message to students; it’s okay to have that message be an encouraging one </li></ul>
  28. 29. Evaluating effort <ul><li>Danger, danger! </li></ul><ul><li>(Did you ever fool anyone?) </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluate effort based on clear standards that you feel comfortable about--work completed, details included, …--against clearly stated criteria </li></ul><ul><li>You probably can’t really ever know how hard a kid is working in other ways </li></ul>