Over the past month, I have been developing a checklist of questions to ask myself while designing effective assessment for my students. Earlier versions are available here and here, but this table represents my final checklist. View the full document here.
|Questions||Evidence of Understanding|
|Have I started by articulating the needs of all students?||– My assessment was created after taking inventory of my students’ needs.|
– My assessment reflects the variety of needs in my classroom.
|Have I made specific plans for using this assessment to impact the instructional design of future learning?||– I haven’t made concrete, irreversible instructional decisions before receiving the results of the assessment.|
– Maintaining choice for student representation of knowledge and multiple means of expression.
|Does my assessment provide timely feedback that will promote the transfer of skills to a new context?||– Students have demonstrated understanding of the key skills or concepts in a new context.|
– I have planned for ongoing feedback opportunities to allow for cycles of revision and improvement.
|Have I ensured my goals are explicit and my students are able to self-assess their progress against the goals?||– Students clearly identify the goal of the learning.|
– Self- assessment opportunities allow for reflection on the goal and identification of concrete steps for improving performance.
|Have I articulated expectations for cooperative learning and social skills during learning and assessment?||– I have explicitly taught skills for giving and receiving feedback from peers.|
– I have planned to offer feedback on how to improve cooperative learning
Adding a 5th Question
This week, I added a question related to collaboration, cooperative learning, and social skills. As I read, it became clear that peer feedback was an effective tool, but teachers tend to focus on the activity and fail to give feedback on collaboration and social interactions. In early and elementary grades, students are developing the routines and vocabulary needed to work together, so feedback on this area and appropriate modeling from the teacher is essential.
Have I articulated expectations for collaborative or cooperative learning and social skills during learning?
Teachers frequently assign cooperative learning without giving attention to teaching the social skills required to successfully work collaboratively. Towards this, Hattie & Timperley (2007) state that “a teacher or parent can provide corrective information, a peer can provide an alternative strategy, a book can provide information to clarify ideas, a parent can provide encouragement, and a learner can look up the answer to evaluate the correctness of a response. Feedback thus is a ‘consequence’ of performance” (p. 81). However, feedback from these social interactions is only beneficial if students are explicitly taught now to communicate effectively. Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick reference the effect of peer feedback on understanding and how “to produce an effect on internal processes or external outcomes the student must actively engage with these external inputs” (p. 202). When planning assessment, it is important for teachers to consider what type of collaboration should take place, what effective collaboration looks like, and offer feedback on the effectiveness of collaborative interactions during learning.
Evidence of Understanding
One of the ISTE standards (2016) for Global Collaborators is that “Students contribute constructively to project teams, assuming various roles and responsibilities to work effectively toward a common goal.” To meet this standard, students need instruction in how to work as a team, how to respect teammates, how to ensure that all voices are heard, and how to make decisions and assign tasks. When learning and assessment involves working collaboratively, teachers must set clear expectations and also assess the effectiveness of collaboration. van den Berghe, Ros, & Beijaard (2013) identify that during active learning “teachers should encourage positive interdependence within small groups, give clear instructions on how to cooperate, and give feedback on the cooperative process” (p. 344). With younger students, teachers should model the dialogue that occurs during learning.
As I reviewed previous questions and evidence of understanding, I felt that all of my questions reflect the types of assessment commonly used in early and elementary grades. Feedback from instructors and peers has been overwhelmingly positive, so I felt I had a solid foundation set as I moved towards adding a fifth question. While reading, I found so many authors that focused on my fourth question and considered splitting it into two separate questions- one teacher-focused and one student-focused; however, students cannot self-assess against a goal if I have not first made that goal explicitly known.
The final question arose from a quote that resonated with my own experience. van den Berghe, Ros, & Beijaard (2013) identify that during active learning “teachers should encourage positive interdependence within small groups, give clear instructions on how to cooperate, and give feedback on the cooperative process” (p. 344). Even in preschool, I want to hear students reflecting on their own work, taking pride in their accomplishments, and sharing their learning with peers. But, with everything else in the early years, it takes practice, teacher modeling, and feedback to develop skills to reflect beyond the surface. The readings helped me see that teaching and giving feedback on social interactions and collaboration skills is important at all grade levels and is worthy of being included in my checklist.
Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81–112.
International Society for Technology in Education. (2016). ISTE standards for students. Eugene, OR
Nicol, D., & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education, 31(2), 199–218.
Van den Berghe, L., Ros, A., & Beijaard, D. (2013). Teacher feedback during active learning: Current practices in primary schools. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 83, 341-362. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8279.2012.02073.x