More than Standards

So I’m working on a research project in which I compare two groups of students understanding of the “nature of science” (how science works, philosophy of science, etc) (NOS for short). The difference between the two groups was the level of assessment. In the first group, informal assessment was used for NOS exclusively. That is, the assessment was in the form of questions in class to inform immediate teaching decisions. In the second group, the informal assessment still happened, but with the addition of formal assessment. The formal assessment was based on a NOS standard as part of the course standards. The second group outperformed the first.* But wait, there’s more!

The second group was not simply SBG. The assessment used with the second group is best characterized as “continual, reflective, & explicit” assessment. Continual, because the standard was revisited in assessments throughout the semester. Reflective, because students were expected to reflect on their own learning via self-assessment. Explicit, because one of the course standards was about the NOS.

Had the assessment change only been to make the assessment “explicit” via standards, I am confident the second group would not have outperformed the first group as clearly as they did. So, as you consider how to make your assessment more explicit with standards, don’t forget about the continual & reflective components of assessment for learning.

*there is a plethora of research to help explain this result, but this is not the time or place. If you’re really interested try searching for a paper with “beyond cold conceptual change” in the title by Pintrich, Marx & Boyle ca. 1993. They talk about how goals, motivation, self efficacy & control play a role in student learning. I think it’s easy to see how the second group’s assessment better supports those constructs.

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3 Responses to More than Standards

  1. This is great. My goal for next year is to work in reflective part. (I already do the continual.) Do you think the *type* of assessment matters? I’m thinking of doing a portfolio-based course with student products linked to standards. I want reflection and growth, so products would be revisited and changed at least twice (once with peer feedback, once with my feedback). I am thinking of doing this in place of more formal quizzes. (I’ll still do quizzes, but as informal checks. Students could turn their quiz into a screencast to put into their portfolio.)

    Anyway, the constant need for me to write quizzes in my SBG system has left me wanting for something better. Any thoughts about teacher created assessments vs. student created assessments?

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    • jerridkruse says:

      I like both. With student created, I expect them to provide me with rationale for their assessment and an explanation of how meets the standard. I like both because having students think in someone else’s context is a useful thinking task.

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  2. Student interaction in a classroom is a very helpful system of learning. I agree that using only the “explicity” material is just the same boring system that has failed so many students over the years. Self reflection is a great way for kids to determine if they are getting a good grasp on the material and also to see if the teacher can learn what parts of the lessons they are missing or misunderstanding. The best results I personally have had is when a professor utilizes the 3 phases as you have mentioned above. Using just an informal method is usually not as helpful because we tend to forget a lot of the material if it is not revisited frequently over a period of time.

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