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Where Are You Going With Assessment?

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by Dabareh Vowell on 28 October 2013

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Transcript of Where Are You Going With Assessment?

Where Are You Going With Assessment?
Relevant Assessment
Think about how assessment furthers learning, not just measures it!

Formative assessment (to gauge learning as it happens and shape the direction of the learner) has been called, one of the most powerful weapons in a teacher's arsenal" (Marzano, 2006, back cover).

Marzano, R. J. (2006). Classroom assessment & grading that work. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Here are some ways to make
assessment more relevant to student
learning.
What and With What Are You Assessing?
Some crucial things!

1. Align all your course assessments to your learning outcomes!

Make sure every assessment ties directly to at least one learning outcome!

Ensure that students understand what you are assessing, and why! Keep learning objectives in front of students!

Write your learning objectives as measurable and/or observable.
Successful Assessment!
The Purposes of Assessment

Assessments in general education should:

1) contain evidence that students are learning what we want them to be learning,
2) engage students in deep, long lasting learning, and 3) generate student work that doesn’t make us cry when we grade them. (p. 78)

Hanstedt, P. General Education Essentials: A Guide for College Faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2012.
In graduate programs, assessment has traditionally been "looser," more focused on big picture outcomes. Many graduate courses incorporate more writing and learner autonomy.

However, outcome assessment in graduate programs can include self-assessment and formative checks that move the learner toward mastery.
But, how should we look at assessment so that it is not simply an evaluative tool for instructors, but also a learning tool for students?
Where should assessment
take students?

Let's explore one route!
1. Give each assessment an "audience."

For each assignment and paper, choose an audience focus. "Designating an audience for each paper forces students to assume authority for their knowledge and take on the task of explaining relevant concept and ideas to others" (Weimer, 2012, para. 5).

You are introducing the topic to someone who knows very little about it.
You are defending this principle from someone who disagrees.
You are writing to an administrator proposing a better way to do something always done a certain way.
You are protesting (or supporting) a movement to overturn a tried-and-true principle in favor of a new approach.
You are leading a team to develop a presentation and they need background information and rationale.

Weimer, M. (2012). Designing assignments that accomplish course goals. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/designing-assignments-that-accomplish-course-goals/
2. Consider quizzes as formative assessment, not solely as summative assessment.

Give frequent, short "mini-quizzes" that allow students to gauge their current understanding.

A three-question quiz at the beginning or end of class, turned in on a notecard, worth 1 point.
This allows you to see if students are reading material before they come to class.
It helps you ascertain if students still are not clear on key points.
It lets students know what they need to study.

Give frequent "mini-quizzes" that allow multiple attempts.
Quizzing is one of the best ways to "cue" students about points you consider important.
Multiple attempts allows students to identify and correct misconceptions or misinformation.

Give partial credit on quizzes for what students DO know.
Allow small groups to discuss their answers during a quiz.

Zook, T. (2012). Content mastery and problem solving skills. Phyzooks. Retrieved from http://phyzooks.com/2012/12/02/content-mastery-and-problem-solving-skills/
3. Allow self-evaluation frequently.

"The value of self-assessment lies in it ability to make the rater take responsibility for their own performance and development. When an individual or group participates in self-evaluation to create a development plan, there is an increased level of commitment to the goals formulated as a result of the assessment" (Lawler-King, sec. 2).

Upon entering class (or in a survey in Canvas), ask the student to rate their understanding of the topic this class or week.
Have students hand you a card on the way out (or complete a survey) with 2 numbers written, rating their investment in reading and research and the return to their understanding from 1-5.
I rate my investment of time and effort in the reading and understanding of this topic as ____ and the return to my knowledge as ____.
Do a "muddiest point" exit card (they turn in an index card as they leave class or at the end of the reading in Canvas).
Have students use their self-assessments to formulate a study and/or improvement plan.

Atwater, L.E. (1998). The advantages and pitfalls of self-assessment in organizations. In Smither, J.W. (Ed.), Performance appraisal: State of the art in practice (pp. 331-369). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Lawler-King, E.E. (n.d.) Self-Assessment and the quest for performance improvement.

Wilson, P. F., & Pearson, R. D. (1995). Performance-based assessments: External, internal, and self-assessment tools for total quality management. Milwaukee, WI: ASQC Quality Press.


4. Think about incorporating frequent, low-stakes grading (FLS) instead of one or two large projects. Your grading time will actually be less and tell you (and the student) more about the learning taking place.

It creates dialogue. Frequent grades can establish a productive student-teacher conversation, and students have an ongoing answer to the question, “How am I doing?”

It builds confidence. Students have many opportunities to succeed, and there is a consistent, predictable, open evaluation structure.

It increases motivation. FLS grading fits into students’ conceptions—and, perhaps, expectations—of assessment and evaluation: This is the culture they grew up in! (Warnock, 2013, para. 5).

Warnock, S. (2013). Frequent, low-stakes grading: Assessment for communication, confidence. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/educational-assessment/frequent-low-stakes-grading-assessment-for-communication-confidence/
A Harvard study suggests that frequent quizzing increases knowledge retention.

http://elearningindustry.com/harvard-researchers-frequent-tests-increase-retention-in-online-learning
5. Break large projects and assignments into chunks and grade drafts and sections periodically.

Require sections to be submitted for proofing (for points) before the final assignment is due. Why?
It allows the student to identify and correct errors, thus encouraging improvement.
It helps students stay on track so they don't fail with no feedback.
It allows you to identify common misconceptions or weak areas.
The proof and section grades offset a large, no-chance-to-improve grade.
It actually reduces your time grading the large product (each section has been graded separately and then combined).
6. Finally, involve students more in assessment creation.

We all know that creating an assessment teaches anyone more about the topic and simply completing the assessment.

Make it part of course credit that students develop assessments on topics.

Have a "shared assessment" session (5 minutes) so students quiz each other.
Have students contribute questions about the topic to a bowl as they come in, drawing out another question as they do. Give 5 minutes for small group answering.
Collect the questions and incorporate the best as part of quizzing and exams.


2. Then, make sure you are varying assessment to get a comprehensive picture of learning.
If you give only multiple-choice exams, are you assessing understanding or test-taking ability?
If you give only paper-writing assignments, what about students who are weak in text-based information and writing, but understand perfectly?
Try to vary assessment (it will engage students better and give both of you information about learning).

Portfolios
Small, weekly exit cards.
Video or audio submissions.
Wiki or blog
Performance, demonstration, speech
Exhibition
Self-evaluation
Peer-evaluation
3. Understand that assessment can be part of teaching!
University of Connecticut. (2013). Assessment primer: How to do assessment. Retrieved from http://assessment.uconn.edu/primer/how1.html
Learning
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