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A-REEF: Assessment

Module by: Fred Mednick. E-mail the author

Figure 1: Early childhood education in Italy that fosters creativity and engagement
Reggio School
Reggio School (reggioschool.jpg)

Overview

We started this course with the image of a reef (and the acronym A-REEF) because a reef is a place teeming with life and possibility, as is this process.

The first letter of the acronymn A -REEF stands for A ssessment.

Assessment is the process of gathering information about what students know and can do. (Evaluating - the third letter in the acronym - is the process of interpreting and making judgements about that assessment information.)

There are numerous assessment models. The three most often used are:

  1. Observations, or information, gathered mainly through a student's daily work via assignments, etc.
  2. Performance samples, or tangible products that serve as evidence of student achievement.
  3. Tests and test-like procedures, or measures of student's achievement at a particular time and place.

Examples of Assessment

Asking What do I know? What do I want to know? What have I learned? is an informal way to assess students' knowledge and learning.

Here are some ways to approach the answers to those questions:

Student journal entries (pre and post) can be compared. If a focus question is used in the journal, the post-unit question should have the same form, but reflect time that has passed (i.e. "What do I know about [this topic]... now?")

Interpreting a picture (drawing or photograph) of a scene before and after a unit of study can be a tool of assessment. For example, students see a picture of a woodland scene and are asked, "How would this scene change if humans settled here?" Then students are asked the same question after studying ecosystems and humans impacts on them. The students' interpretations can be very revealing.

Document science attitudes and skills using a checklist system before a unit and after it. In the same way, compare student data tables or lab reports from the beginning of the year and the end.

A teacher or a student can perform the same simple task at the beginning and at the end of a unit and the class can use the same worksheet to explain or describe the task. The responses and explanations can be compared.

Have students create a concept map as a class and then compare it to the map students make at the end of a unit. Accept both correct and incorrect information for the first map. When the second map is created, try to reflect all information gleaned from a unit of study and ferret out all inaccurate information (without exposing students who provide incorrect information to censure). Pose this as a process of discovery, not a search for an error-free first document.

Student self-evaluations encourage self-reflection and better learning for students. They can encompass a variety of formats. The content of self-evaluations should never be graded. However, there is a kind of evaluation that can be graded for depth of analysis - i.e., how seriously did you take this task? Did you attempt to understand you own thinking and writing processes? Were you able to contextualize your own acts as a writer and thinker within course themes? The grade is for the application of insight and course themes to his/her own practice.

FOR EXAMPLES, click here

More Examples

In addition to pre and post assessments, teachers can institute many other types of alternative assessment.

Post-unit assessments can include "lab tests." Student interpretation of data (especially data which they collected) can expose their understanding. Hands-on experiments that replicate a process used in the unit allow teachers to measure ability to use skills that were taught. Given certain materials, students can construct a model of the current topic of study, i.e. the cell. Students could work alone or in pairs to design and/or carry out an experiment.

A culminating activity such as a presentation, skit or teaching of others allows exhibition of student learning. The teacher should use the rehearsal for the public activity as the actual assessment, so that any nervousness won't hinder an accurate assessment of students' knowledge.

Things to Consider

When you start using alternative assessment, start small. One example of this is to use an old multiple choice question without providing the answers. This eliminates the "guessing factor" for which multiple choice tests are famous.

Look for things that you already do to find evidence of students' thinking and learning.

Be realistic about the values of your school community.

If graded report cards are emphasized, be sure that you can translate your assessments into traditional grades.

Assignment 4: Your Current and Future Assessment Tools

Assignment 4: Your Current and Future Assessment Tools

HOW TO GET TO ASSIGNMENT 4:

One Way

Click on the link in color at the top of this page. When it appears, press "Save" and name the file so that you can work on this assignment "off-line." You can type right on the assignment template. Be sure to save your assignment on a disk or on your computer hard drive.

Another Way

Copy the text below, and save it to your disk or computer.

GOAL: To review forms of assessment you already use. To expand upon or try a new assessment (or combination of assessments) for an upcoming lesson or unit of study.

GIVE: Feedback to others on their assignments at the TWB Learning Cafe

Assignment 4: Your Current and Future Assessment Tools

  1. List 7 different types of assessment you have used in your classroom practice.
  2. Next to each one listed in #1, describe it further with a one-sentence description giving a specific example.
  3. Think of a unit of study or activity you have already done with your students. Say what assessment tool you used. Describe other assessment tools you think could also be useful that you may not have used for this instruction. (See examples from the previous pages to stimulate your thinking.)
  4. Think of a lesson or unit of study you will be teaching in the coming weeks. List all of the assessment tools that might be helpful to use.
  5. Next to each possible assessment tool you list in #4 (above), describe how it may be helpful to you and your students.

Types of Assessments

Generative

Students and their teachers create the assessment criteria and/or tools so that they are meaningful and generate knowledge. For more on this subject, as well as example, click here.

Seamless and Ongoing

Instruction and assessment are integrated; assessment of the process and products occurs throughout the instruction. To read more about this subject, click here.

Authentic Assessment

Authentic assessment is geared toward assessment methods that correspond as closely as possible to real world experience. The instructor observes the student in the process of working on something real; provides feedback; monitors the student's use of the feedback; and adjusts instruction and evaluation accordingly. Authentic assessment takes this principle of evaluating real work into all areas of the curriculum.

Performance-Based

Assessments are meaningful, challenging experiences that involve presenting students with an authentic task, project, or investigation, and then observing, interviewing and/or examining their artifacts and presentations to assess what they actually know and can do. For an example using mathematics, click here.

Suggested Reading:

Performance Assessment: A strong overview of the field.

PDF version of Performance Assessment below:

Performance Assessment:

Portfolios

When we hear the name, "portfolio," we often think of artists carrying around a large valise of their creations, or of a business-person carrying around a thin briefcase of financial papers. The portfolio in education is a powerful assessment technique, as well, and includes evidence from one's work on major topics, successes, challenges, and questions. The key word is evidence that can show - far more than tests - what students know and what they need to do in order to improve.

What can be in a Portfolio?

  1. Examples of best work; the range of work (from satisfying to unsatisfying work); work that shows growth.
  2. Samples from each theme or unit or response to a large question.
  3. Work displaying progress and the value of the course in moving the student along.
  4. Evidence of insight - samples that show concepts being developed.
  5. Student self reflections - why the student made certain choices; how the student believes s/he is doing; what s/he wants to do in order to improve.

Portfolios and Good Questions

A good question, serving as the central core of a course, is best combined with a portfolio from individual students - or a team - to demonstrate progress.

Here are some examples of core questions:

  1. How much trash is produced in a day in your community? Students would collect and carry all of the trash they produce in a 24-hour period, then organize the trash into categories, report the environmental problems that exist with each type of trash, and find solutions for these problems. They must then devise an advertising plan to increase public awareness about waste disposal. Finally, they must determine if they were correct in their calculations or in the effectiveness of their campaign.
  2. A tractor has stopped running. Why? How can it be restarted again and made useful? Is it worth it? If the tractor were abandoned in favor of something else to do the work, what would that be? How would it be accomplished? And, how could you use the old tractor for other purposes? Where would it go if you're not using it?

Examples of Portfolios

Below is a general outline for a portfolio's contents:

  1. Table of Contents.
  2. A letter from student to the teacher explaining the contents.
  3. Student reflections on his/her performance.
  4. Best work and reason why the student has selected it.
  5. Work the student is unsatisfied with, and reasons why.
  6. Most improved work or work that shows growth.
  7. Plan and commitment for improvement.

Porfolios are creative efforts and show the individuality of student work. They can take many forms and should tap into the cultural themes of the students themselves. Consider, too, how the forms below may fit into your subject:

  • Museum exhibit
  • Oral history
  • Documents
  • Diaries
  • Songs
  • Stories
  • Dances
  • Rituals
  • Film
  • Drawing
  • Interviews
  • Three-dimensional art work

Recommended Reading: Using Portfolios in the Classroom

PDF File below

Using Portfolios in the Classroom

This article talks about the ability to use the Internet and computers to create and edit student portfolios.

To see an example of a science-related student portfolio, click here.

To see examples of teacher portfolios, click here .

HOW TO GET TO THE NEXT MODULE:

Usually, you just click "Next" to go to the next page. When you finish a section, however, (as you're about to do when you finish reading these two paragraphs), you need to click on the "Outline" button, which is on the bottom, right-hand side of the page. Look underneath the blue bar and click on the word "Outline."

When you click on "Outline," a screen will come up that will show you the outline for Course 3. Look for the next section to read and click on the first topic in that next section. For example, when you get to the outline now, look under the next section called "A-REEF: Reflection" and look for the first topic in black lettering called "A Teacher's Story." Click on "A Teacher's Story."

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| A lens I own (?)

Definition of a lens

Lenses

A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

What is in a lens?

Lens makers point to materials (modules and collections), creating a guide that includes their own comments and descriptive tags about the content.

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What are tags? tag icon

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