Wrapping Up My Exploration of Assessment

About three months ago, I started on a journey exploring assessment and its use in my classroom. At the beginning of the trip, I identified three things that I believed about assessment. As I studied, my beliefs about assessment didn’t change, but they did get more developed. 

The original list: (May 17, 2020)

  1. Assessment should measure growth.
  2. Assessment should measure that growth over time. 
  3. The assessment used should match the information or skill measured.

The new list: (July 31, 2020)

  1. Assessment should be informative to the student and the teacher and indicate the level of mastery concerning course goals. 

“Good feedback provides information to teachers that can be used to shape teaching” (Nicol & McFarlane, 2006, p. 205). Preparation programs must train teachers to use formative assessments to inform their teaching. It is too important to leave to chance. They must know how to use the data to make decisions about instruction. “Well-designed and implemented formative assessment should be able to suggest how instruction should be modified, as well as suggest impressionistically to the teacher what students know and can do” (Bennett, 2011, P. 7). 

Students should also use assessment feedback to gauge where they stand in regards to their end goals. Black and Williams reinforced this idea when they said, “The ultimate user of assessment information that is elicited in order to improve learning is the pupil” (1998, p. 4). Students must understand how to guide their learning. 

All of the feedback from an assessment should be directly connected to course goals. Since the result is the mastery of course goals, feedback should always indicate what a student has learned in connection to those goals. It’s like a moving scale that gets closer and closer to the target as students display their understanding of the concepts. 

2. Assessment should require students to demonstrate their understanding. 

It is essential to teach and assess for understanding and transfer (Avenues: The World School, 2013). Anyone can memorize facts, but it is much more challenging to use those facts, in the right context, to explain or interpret something. We regularly hear that the jobs of the future will require students to be able to use information creatively to create new solutions to problems. It is our job to prepare them for those jobs. Wiggins and McTighe identified six facets of understanding, which they also described as manifestations of transferability (2005). They say if the assessment can measure the students’ ability to explain, interpret, apply, have perspective, empathize, or have self-knowledge, it measures understanding (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). 

3. Assessment should be authentic.

Practical formative assessment provides “realistic, challenging problems and items that elicit student understanding and make their understanding visible” (Quellmalz, 2013, p. 3). The realism of the problems and items are what make assessments authentic. An authentic question asks the students to apply their understanding of the information to a real-world problem. It is typically a performance-based task. For many students, it’s the answer to the age-old question, “how will I use this in my real life.” 

The changes examined: 

As I said before, I don’t see my new list as a change but rather a careful development of my original ideas. In the original listing, I identified that assessment is a measurement of growth over time. Through my exploration, I expanded that idea into the first two beliefs on my second list. 

Honestly, I don’t see many differences other than wording between the third belief on the original list versus the new list. An authentic assessment gives a much more accurate picture of student understanding. 

Applications:

Throughout my exploration of assessment I have taken the time to create a few new products that I plan to use in the classroom. All of the assessments I have created have been formative assessments. They were designed to give the students as well as the teacher feedback that would determine the next steps in the progression of the curriculum. All of the formative assessments have been authentic. Each required the students to actively make a recipe to show mastery of a skill. 

Another assessment that I created was a game-based assessment. While exploring game-based assessment, I started to consider whether I could find a natural way to use one in cooking. A great place to start seemed to be with reading and manipulating recipes. There are a lot of choices and consequences related to following a recipe. The choices and their related consequences are the “procedural rhetoric” (Bogost, 2007, pg. 3) of a game. 

References:

Avenues: The World School. (2013, February 28). Grant Wiggins – Understanding by Design (1 of 2)[Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watchtime_continue=22&v=4isSHf3SBuQ&feature=emb_logo

Bennett, R. E. (2011). Formative assessment: A critical review. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 18(1), 5-25.doi:10.1080/0969594X.2010.513678

Black, P. & Wiliam, D. (1998). Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. The Phi Delta Kappan, 80(2), 139-144, 146-148.

Bogost, I. (2007). Persuasive games: The expressive power of videogames. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

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

Popham, J. (2012). Assessment bias: How to banish it. Pearson. http://iarss.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Popham_Bias_BK04.pdf

Quellmalz, E.S. (2013). Technology to support next-generation classroom  formative assessment for learning. San Francisco, CA: West Ed.

Wiggins, G.P. & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Formative Assessment Design 3.0

A few months ago, when I started on this assessment journey, I identified a need for a new assessment in my Advanced Baking class. If you want to go back and read the original post you can find it here. The reason I feel that I need a new assessment in this area is because when the students are creating new recipes they go through many iterations of the recipe before they get it perfect for the bake shop. As part of each step along the way they taste the product and form opinions about the taste, texture, and appearance. Then they make plans for the next iteration. Currently the process is verbal which means that some ideas can be forgotten from one day to the next.

Creating new formative assessment would be the perfect way to solve this problem. As I have been exploring assessment my thoughts on the importance of feedback in the form of formative assessment have been reinforced. In one video I watched, Rick Wormelli says that “students can learn without grades but they can’t learn without feedback” (Stenhouse Publishers, 2010). In an article I read the authors stated that “feedback is among the most critical influences on student learning” (Hattie & Timperly, 2007, p. 81). Both of those statements are strongly worded to drive home the importance of feedback on student learning. It relates to the assessment I am contemplating because the students can’t improve their products, which are examples of their understandings of how baking works, without the constant use of feedback.

My original thoughts on the new assessment – Version 1.0:

Some additional thoughts on the new assessment – Version 2.0:

The instruction that will take place before the assessment is used will be specific to each lab group. Since each group is creating a unique dessert I will provide instruction that is unique to their needs. For example, if the group is creating a cookie as part of their product I will provide instruction on the science behind creating the best cookie. I will also provide instruction on technical parts of their recipe as needed. The assessment will be applied when the group has created their product and also each time they make changes to the recipe and make it again. After the group analyzes the data from their “Product Feedback” assessment they will create a new plan for the recipe and I will provide more instruction if it is needed. It will be a cycle of baking, assessment, new plan, baking, assessment, new plan until the product is exactly what they are looking for. This assessment plan, in my opinion, touches upon several of the 7 Principles of Good Feedback as defined by Nicol & McFarlane (2006, p. 205). It facilitates the development of self-assessment in learning, encourages teacher and peer dialogue around learning, and it provides information to teachers that can be used to shape teaching (Nicol & McFarlane, 2006, p. 205).

Some basic instruction will be provided to the students along with their assessment, as I explained in the past blog post. The instructions will look something like this:

My newest thoughts- Version 3.0:

After looking back over my previous plans I’m pretty happy with them. I do have some things to add however. From the perspective of UDL or Universal Design for Learning an assessment should be designed to meet the needs of ALL learners. Experts on UDL say that an effective assessment “is ongoing and focused on learner progress” and that “it informs and involves the learners” (Meyer, et.al, 2014, pg. 74). I took some time to look at this evaluation through a UDL lense and I think it does exactly that. This evaluation gives students feedback about their performance in relation to their goal and is used multiple times as they make progress towards that goal.

My planned assessment should utilize digital technology so that the students can all access the feedback when they need to, inside and outside of the classroom. The technology that comes to mind first is Google Forms. I have used it before for similar purposes and it can be set up in a varying array of formats. The questions can be typical multiple choice, short answer, or essay or they can be rating scales and drop down lists. The accompanying digital technology of Google Sheets gives students a way to analyze the feedback. The data can be sorted by product, by group, by respondent, etc. Using Google Sheets the students can look at the information from a variety of angles and come up with a game plan for their next iteration of the recipe.

A look at the product: Product Feedback Form

Students are requested to provide feedback about the name and menu description of the product.
Then students taste the product and rate it on a variety of elements.
Then they elaborate on their ratings to provide feedback that is more detailed. They must give suggestions, even if that means suggesting to keep everything the same because it is perfect.

I‘m pleased with this version of the formative assessment and I look forward to using it with my Advanced Baking students. Thanks for following along on this adventure! I hope it has been as helpful to you as it has to me.

References:

Meyer, A., Rose, D.H., & Gordon, D. (2014). Universal design for learning: Theory and practice. Wakefield, MA: CAST.

Nicol, D., & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practiceStudies in Higher Education, 31(2), 199–218

Stenhouse Publishers. (2010, November 13). Rick Wormeli: Formative and  Summative Assessment [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJxFXjfB_B4

Assessing with a Game! (yes, a game)

Recently I did some reading about using games for assessment. It certainly sounds like more fun than a pencil paper assessment! The author used the phrase semiotic domains which are “any set of practices that recruits one or more modalities to communicate distinctive types of meanings” (Gee, 2003, pg. 18). In my best estimation I teach a semiotic domain — cooking. Cooking is a certainly a set of practices and it uses written language, images, symbols, sounds, smells, tastes, graphs, etc. to communicate distinctive types of meanings. For example, the definition of something as simple as fruit is different in a cooking domain than a biology domain. We use sounds and smells to indicate proper cooking.

After my reading I started to consider whether I could find a natural way to use a game based assessment in cooking. A great place to start would be with recipes. There are a lot of choices and consequences related to following a recipe. The choices and their related consequences are the “procedural rhetoric” (Bogost, 2007, pg. 3) of a game.

This is the plan I came up with…

I will create a game that asks students to cut a baking recipe in half and make decisions as they “make” the recipe. The decisions that they make will lead to acceptable or unacceptable baking outcomes. For example, usually when you ask someone to cut something in half, all parts get cut in half. However, in baking when you cut a recipe in half the baking temperature typically stays the same. The students will have to look at the content as though they are a chef.

I can use this game to assess students understanding of baking principles such as measurement and mise en place which have meanings that are specific to baking and different in other contexts. Also, I can assess whether the students are thinking like a chef with this game. If they make decisions that are contrary to those a chef would make then they are not “being a chef”. In the end of the game they will reach outcomes that reflect the decisions that they made along the way. From those outcomes I can make inferences about the success of the previous lessons and determine whether we can move on or spend more time reviewing this topic.

As always when I am creating an assessment I need to line it up with my Assessment Design Checklist. My checklist requires that the assessment connects to the goals of the unit or course. Reading a recipe and adjusting a recipe are goals of the course so this certainly matches that requirement. Another requirement on my checklist is that the assessment should inform future learning. Since this assessment will be used to determine whether to move on or review the topic it completes this requirement as well.

This is the game I made with that plan…

It plays out more like a formative self-assessment than a summative “grade book” assessment. The students will find out what they know about changing a recipe and have chances to make better decisions when their original doesn’t turn out well. In order to get a picture of what they knew and didn’t I would need them to report out at the end. I can’t sit beside all 80 students while they play this game. They would need to write a summary at the end of what they got right on the first try and how they can improve their performance next time. This summary would be used to determine the next lessons in our class.

Reflection on the Process –

In case you were wondering, I used Twinery.org to create this game. It’s pretty simple to use once you get the hang of it and could even be used by students. The problem is that the html code for your game is not saved in a permanent location and this creates an issue. You can download it but giving it to others to play is tricky. WordPress would not allow it to be embedded in this site because it said it was possibly dangerous code. After a few hours of hair pulling frustration I found a place to store it. I created a free account on neocities.org and created a site just for this code. I’m not sure it was the best solution but it was the only one I came up with that didn’t cost me any extra money. I’m a teacher with a family and that means there isn’t a lot of extra money lying around!

References:

Bogost, I. (2007). Persuasive games: The expressive power of videogames. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 

Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. 

An old gal learning new tricks

I’ve been teaching for a while now (20 years) and today was the first time that I felt old. I was investigating how games can be used for assessment and one of the passages said, “Many people who don’t play video games, especially older people, are sure to say that playing video games is “a waste of time” (Gee, 2003, pg 19). I don’t think of myself as old but I have long felt that playing video games is a waste of time. To reinforce how strongly I feel about this I make my children (7 & 9 years old) earn their computer time with the following requirements.

This actually hangs on my fridge!

As I continued to read, annoyed by being categorized as old, I started to make some connections to the new vocabulary. The author used the phrase semiotic domains which are “any set of practices that recruits one or more modalities to communicate distinctive types of meanings” (Gee, 2003, pg. 18). In my best estimation I teach a semiotic domain — cooking. Cooking is a certainly a set of practices and it uses written language, images, symbols, sounds, smells, tastes, graphs, etc. to communicate distinctive types of meanings. For example, the definition of something as simple as fruit is different in a cooking domain than a biology domain. We use sounds and smells to indicate proper cooking.

I was starting to feel a little more confident and even started to consider whether I could find a natural way to use a game based assessment in cooking. A great place to start would be with recipes. There are a lot of choices and consequences related to following a recipe. The choices and their related consequences are the “procedural rhetoric” (Bogost, 2007, pg. 3) of a game.

This is my plan

I will create a game that asks students to cut a baking recipe in half and make decisions as they “make” the recipe. The decisions that they make will lead to acceptable or unacceptable baking outcomes. For example, usually when you ask someone to cut something in half, all parts get cut in half. However, in baking when you cut a recipe in half the baking temperature typically stays the same. The students will have to look at the content as though they are a chef.

I can use this game to assess students understanding of baking principles such as measurement and mise en place which have meanings that are specific to baking and different in other contexts. Also, I can assess whether the students are thinking like a chef with this game. If they make decisions that are contrary to those a chef would make then they are not “being a chef”. In the end of the game they will reach outcomes that reflect the decisions that they made along the way. From those outcomes I can make inferences about the success of the previous lessons and determine whether we can move on or spend more time reviewing this topic.

As always when I am creating an assessment I need to line it up with my Assessment Design Checklist. My checklist requires that the assessment connects to the goals of the unit or course. Reading a recipe and adjusting a recipe are goals of the course so this certainly matches that requirement. Another requirement on my checklist is that the assessment should inform future learning. Since this assessment will be used to determine whether to move on or review the topic it completes this requirement as well.

Now, I have to turn this plan into an actual game based assessment. If I can do that successfully I won’t feel so old anymore. I’ll share my product when it’s complete…hopefully very soon.

P.S. I may be looking at games a little differently but I’m still not changing my at home tech policy. We have to take these things one step at a time!

References:

Bogost, I. (2007). Persuasive games: The expressive power of videogames. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 

Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Using Google Classroom to Assess

Have you read my last post? I spent some time taking an in depth look at the possible ways to use Google Classroom for assessment. While I was on this little adventure I found a feature of Google Forms, which seamlessly connects to Google Classroom, that got me excited and I couldn’t wait to try it out. This post is all about that experience.

I decided to create a formative assessment that could be used in my Baking class. The students in this class have all taken a basic course in which they learned how to follow a recipe and now they are learning more in depth knowledge about why things happen in the kitchen and how to control their results.

If you’ve been following my journey into assessment you’ve seen my Assessment Design Checklist. On this checklist I have identified 5 things that should be considered when creating an assessment for my classroom. I kept this in mind as I was creating the assessment today and here is the breakdown of how I think I aligned with it…

  • Does this assessment inform student learning? Check! It is a self-assessment that guides the students through an exploration of what they know about biscuits and how they are made, how their biscuits turned out, and how they can be improved for the next attempt. It ends with the students outlining a plan to reach their goal.
  • Does this assessment require students to demonstrate their understanding? Check! The students demonstrate their understanding by identifying how they will improve the biscuits with the next attempt and connecting that to their knowledge of what makes biscuits light and fluffy.
  • Is this assessment explicitly connected to the coarse goals? Check! One of the unit goals is listed on the assessment and directly connected to the assessment.
  • Does this assessment inform future instruction? Check! The assessment asks the students to identify what they need from the teacher to proceed. The information collected about taste, texture, appearance, and aroma also give the teacher clues to what the students need to review or master to find their way to success.
  • Are the assessment tasks or problems authentic? Check! I’m not sure you can get more authentic than baking biscuits to learn about how biscuits are made.

I really enjoyed using the Quiz Assignment feature of Google Classroom. It was a streamlined way to add a Google Form assessment to the classroom. I especially liked that now I can add a rating scale to a Google Form so my students can rate their products. That hasn’t always been an option but it’s a great addition.

By using a Course Management System like Google Classroom I am able to expand the amount of information I can provide to students. It also makes it possible to make the course more self-paced or group-paced. The entire class doesn’t have to be working on the same lab at the same time. I can customize the coursework so that “students must demonstrate that they have mastered a particular set of objectives before moving on to the next set” (Sams & Bergmann, 2013, pg 18). It is totally transforming the way I teach!

References:

Sams, A., & Bergmann, J. (2013). Flip your students’ learning. Educational Leadership, 70(6), 16-20.

Evaluating the Assessment Potential of Google Classroom

Do you use Google Classroom? In the district I teach in we have a 1:1 initiative with Chromebooks from 3rd through 12th grade. Since we use Chromebooks it is natural that we also use the Google G Suite for Education which includes Google Classroom. The apps within this system give the students and teachers the ability to communicate, collaborate, and organize. It also gives teachers a way to manage assignments, quizzes, and grades via Google Classroom. I’ve been using Google Classroom for the past 5 years but I’ve never looked at it closely, peeking into every corner and clicking on every option to evaluate its maximum potential for assessment. Today we’re going to correct that problem. As I explore the many parts of Google Classroom, in detail, I’m going to share with you my thoughts on how each feature has potential for being used for assessment. Maybe we’ll discover some useful assessment tools together.

Before we get into Google Classroom itself let’s take a look at the Terms of Service and the Privacy Policy. I thought this would be easy to find but I had to do some searching. After a bit of looking I took the easy route and Googled it, ha! I am aware that the privacy policy keeps some districts from using G Suite with their students even though my district seems to be ok with it. This has implications for assessment because the privacy of student personal information and grades must be protected. Google is clear that some personal information is shared with them including password, username, and email at the very least. It may be prudent to restrict the amount of personal information you are collecting from students as part of an assessment as one way to protect their privacy when using this system.

Stream – When you first open up a Google Classroom the first thing you see is the stream. It is an ongoing list of all announcements, assignments, etc. that have been posted, in the order in which they have been posted. The organization by date gives students a quick view of the most recently posted material so they have to do less digging. There is a list on the left side of the stream with the heading “Upcoming”. This is a list of all assignments that have due dates coming up so, again, students have a quick view of what they need to be working on. Until today I had never really thought of using the stream as an assessment tool but then I figured out that students can be given more than “read only” rights to the stream. In settings the teacher can give students the ability to not only comment on items in the stream but to also post them! This could be used as a formative assessment by asking students to comment on an article with a short summary of what they read. The students could create content to share that shows their learning and other students could comment on it. There are quite a few ways that this could be used. I do see possible constraints for using this as an assessment however. Having students add content, before it has been reviewed by the teacher, could allow inappropriate content to be added to the stream. I work with highschool students and I can see this as a likely problem. I would be more likely to use this with my advanced class than the younger students.

Classwork – If you follow the classwork tab from the stream you see the same listing of materials, assignments, etc. but in a different organization. On the classwork page everything is listed by topic. This is especially useful in the elementary classroom when the teacher is using it for many subjects. Within the classroom page there are a lot of assessment possibilities. Here you can add an assignment, a quiz, a question, and even materials for students to use. They don’t have to be assigned to the entire class either. We can assign them to particular students within a class which makes them more useful for individualization.

  • Assignments – With this feature we can add an assignment of any kind really. There is a title and then open area to give instructions and background information. A lot of things can be attached to an assignment. We can attach videos, links, Google docs, slides, or sheets, as well as Word documents. It can be used to assess in any way that a teacher can imagine because it is completely created by them. Students can attach documents, videos, and audio files when turning in their assignments so there are few constraints with the assessment possibilities here. One thing that I do want to point out is that it is important to be aware that if students are completing these assignments without a teacher looking over their shoulder they will have the entire internet at their disposal. The teacher will want to craft their assessment with care.
  • Quiz Assignments – This feature sets up an assignment with a Google Form attached that the teacher uses to create their quiz. One nice thing about Google Form Quizzes is that if a student has a school issued device the teacher can set the quiz to freeze their device until the quiz is submitted. This means that students can’t use any other part of their device until they are finished with the quiz. The constraints of this feature are that we have to use Google Forms to create the quiz. This isn’t really a terrible thing because there are a lot of awesome ways to create quizzes within that application. We can make multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and essay questions with ease. There are also options for rating items on a scale which I just found and want to play with. I think it could be used for an end of lab self-assessment of student products. Look for an exploration of that particular feature soon.
  • Question – This feature kind of speaks for itself. We can ask a question that the students have to answer. It is limited to this particular type of assessment so while it is useful it can’t be used for everything. When it comes to formative assessment this question feature is nice. We ask a question at the end of a lesson and the students answer, and can even reply to each others answers which helps them learn from their peers.

People – Another tab to follow is the people tab which lists all of the students in the class with their email addresses. It also lists the parents who have joined the class to keep an eye on what their child is doing. This is great for communication purposes but can also be considered an assessment tool because a teacher can send feedback to a student using this feature. It is limited in it’s uses for assessment but still has at least that going for it.

After a few years of working with Google Classroom this intense exploration has opened up some new possibilities for using it for assessment. In the coming year I plan to use it in conjunction with Google Sites to create a Hybrid Course Management System (CMS) for my classes. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed how we teach so dramatically in such a short time and while challenging I find it to be invigorating. I’m heading in the direction of a Hybrid course because it’s the best of both worlds. It provides the advantages of online learning with the benefits of the traditional classroom (Christenson et. al., 2013). The likelihood that I will only some of my students each day, while the others are learning remotely, also makes it the best plan. That’s why I’m here, looking closely at my options and planning for the uncertain future as best as I can.

References –

Christenson, C.M, Horn, M.B., Staker, H. (2013, May 22). Is K-12 Blending Learning Disruptive?: An Introduction to the Theory of Hybrids. Retrieved from https://www.christenseninstitute.org/publications/hybrids/.

Assessment Design 3.0 – The Final Checklist

Remember that assessment design checklist I’ve been working on for the past month or so? It is finally complete. In this checklist I have identified 5 questions that I should ask when creating an assessment. In honesty the questions themselves were not that hard to narrow down but explaining why each one was important took a bit of time.

Without further delay, here is the final assessment design checklist…

The black writing is from the first draft, the blue writing is from the second draft, and the red is from the final draft.

To see the full checklist with the supporting explanations and evidence follow the link to Assessment Design checklist 3.0.

The exploration that I did about assessment was immensely helpful in solidifying my ideas. If I were to choose the most thought provoking ideas that I encountered during this process the first would be from Rick Wormeli. In his video he said, ” Students can learn without grades but they can’t learn without feedback!” (Stenhouse, 2010). After years and years of thinking about grades and feedback as one and the same this took some time to rectify in my brain. He is so right!

The second really eye opening idea that I encountered was about using assessment to learn rather than using it to punish. “We have to help students (and teachers) look to assessment as a source of insight and help rather than as a rewards and punishment system” (Shepard, 2005, p. 10). Again, this took some time for me to come to terms with. The description of assessment and grades as a reward and punishment system rather than a display of what students know made me think deeply about how assessments are used in my classroom. There is a lot of room for improvement!

Thank you for patiently following along as I worked my way through the creation of this checklist. I hope it has been as educational for you as it has been for me. Hmmm, I wonder what I can explore next in the assessment realm…

Update: Addition of Question #6

After a lot of reading and thought I decided recently that something was missing from my final checklist. While it may seem like common sense that assessments should be unbiased it has recently become glaringly obvious that just assuming a lack of bias is not good enough. Our students need us to be vividly aware of our cultural competency, which “is the ability to use critical-thinking skills to interpret how cultural values and beliefs influence conscious and unconscious behavior” (Mayfield, 2020). We should be using that awareness to identify and remove bias in all parts of education. Assessments should never be biased based on student personal characteristics like race, culture, gender, age, background, language, etc.

The new Assessment Design Checklist, with question number 6 added can be found at the following link:

Assessment Design Checklist 4.0

References:

Popham, J. (2012). Assessment bias: How to banish it. Pearson. http://iarss.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Popham_Bias_BK04.pdf

Shepard, L. (2005). Linking formative assessment to scaffolding. Educational Leadership, 63(3), 66-70.

Stenhouse Publishers. (2010, November 13). Rick Wormeli: Formative and  Summative Assessment [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJxFXjfB_B4

Assessment Design 2.0

About a month ago, when I started on this assessment journey, I identified a need for a new assessment in my Advanced Baking class. If you want to go back and read the original post you can find it here. The reason I feel that I need a new assessment in this area is because when the students are creating new recipes they go through many iterations of the recipe before they get it perfect for the bake shop. As part of each step along the way they taste the product and form opinions about the taste, texture, and appearance. Then they make plans for the next iteration. Currently the process is verbal which means that some ideas can be forgotten from one day to the next.

Creating new formative assessment would be the perfect way to solve this problem. As I have been exploring assessment my thoughts on the importance of feedback in the form of formative assessment have been reinforced. In one video I watched, Rick Wormelli says that “students can learn without grades but they can’t learn without feedback” (Stenhouse Publishers, 2010). In an article I read the authors stated that “feedback is among the most critical influences on student learning” (Hattie & Timperly, 2007, p. 81). Both of those statements are strongly worded to drive home the importance of feedback on student learning. It relates to the assessment I am contemplating because the students can’t improve their products, which are examples of their understandings of how baking works, without the constant use of feedback.

My original thoughts on the new assessment:

Some additional thoughts on the new assessment:

The instruction that will take place before the assessment is used will be specific to each lab group. Since each group is creating a unique dessert I will provide instruction that is unique to their needs. For example, if the group is creating a cookie as part of their product I will provide instruction on the science behind creating the best cookie. I will also provide instruction on technical parts of their recipe as needed. The assessment will be applied when the group has created their product and also each time they make changes to the recipe and make it again. After the group analyzes the data from their “Product Feedback” assessment they will create a new plan for the recipe and I will provide more instruction if it is needed. It will be a cycle of baking, assessment, new plan, baking, assessment, new plan until the product is exactly what they are looking for. This assessment plan, in my opinion, touches upon several of the 7 Principles of Good Feedback as defined by Nicol & McFarlane (2006, p. 205). It facilitates the development of self-assessment in learning, encourages teacher and peer dialogue around learning, and it provides information to teachers that can be used to shape teaching (Nicol & McFarlane, 2006, p. 205).

Some basic instruction will be provided to the students along with their assessment, as I explained in the past blog post. The feedback instructions have not changed from the first version. The instructions will look something like this:

This new formative assessment is starting to really take shape. I can’t wait to share the final product with you once I choose a technology application to use and get the formatting complete. So much to do, but so excited to do it…

References:

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

Stenhouse Publishers. (2010, November 13). Rick Wormeli: Formative and  Summative Assessment [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJxFXjfB_B4

Assessment Design Checklist – Version 2

Have you been following along as I explore assessment as it applies to my classroom and beyond? Then I’m guessing you have been waiting rather impatiently to see how my Assessment Design Checklist continues to take shape. Never fear, you can find the first page here with a link to the full document with all of the explanations of why I chose each very important question.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iIf65b3ByK0JBHIAWibZoCd72gdQS_tgWEabPFnkO10/edit?usp=sharing

Something that I read last week has had a strong impact on my thoughts on question number 3: Is this assessment explicitly connected to the course goals?. Hattie and Timperly identified three big questions for feedback…

1. Where am I going? (what are the learning goals)

2. How am I going? (how will I make progress toward the goals)

3. Where to next? (what activities need to happen to make progress)

(Hattie & Timperly, 2007, p.88). This impressed upon me the importance of sharing the unit goals with students. They need to know what the learning goals are in order to use feedback to reach those goals. If we don’t tell them what the goals are it’s unlikely they will reach them without struggle. Think about it this way, if I give you a recipe with no title and don’t tell you what the finished product is supposed to be, won’t you be frustrated at the end if I tell you it’s wrong? We have to give our students a goal to shoot for.

References:

Hattie, J. & Timperley, H. (2007). The Power of Feedback. Review of  Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112. https://search-proquest-com.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/docview/214113991/fulltext/A88FAE310A0B4CE9PQ/1?accountid=12598

A Closer Look At Group Work Rubrics

Have you ever worked on a group project, felt you worked harder than some other group members, and then felt cheated when you all got the same grade? I can imagine everyone nodding with great enthusiasm and disgust (My husband is nodding and complaining as he sits beside me reading this too). This happens often as more and more teachers are utilizing group. I’ve been frustrated for some time now in how that group work is assessed, including (or perhaps especially) in my own classroom.

The subject matter that I teach has traditionally been taught using group work. Introductory cooking, baking, and culinary arts all require a team approach due to the short supply of money, space, and equipment. Teamwork is also a core skill for success in the culinary field. A professional kitchen relies on the “Kitchen Brigade” to work seamlessly to get meals out in a timely manner. Group work makes sense for our subject matter but the way that it is traditionally assessed poses problems.

The assessment of group work typically utilizes a “Group Work Rubric”. This rubric assesses all of the individuals in the group as a whole and can look something like this…

Group Work Rubric (sample)

In this streamlined form six cooking groups, with four students in each group, can all be assessed on a single sheet of paper. The ratings are on a scale of zero to two (0= didn’t complete, 1= somewhat achieved the goal, 2= completely achieved the goal) and the teacher can very quickly assess the whole class. The ease of use and speed with which you can assess large numbers is possibly why it is so popular.

This is the rubric that I was expected to use when I started teaching at my current district. Is it quick and easy to use? Yes. Does it make it possible to put a grade in the gradebook for each lab in the short 45 minutes I have with each group of students? Yes. However, after a few weeks of trying to make it work I found some major flaws. First of all there is absolutely no way to individualize a grade using this rubric. When a student in the group doesn’t pull their weight they still get rewarded with a higher grade than they deserve. On the contrary, when a student is pulling more than their weight in the group they sometimes get punished for the actions of the other group members using this system. Second, it doesn’t do anything except for put a number in the gradebook. The students never really get feedback using this model and it isn’t actually measuring any specific skills. How can they improve if their assessment isn’t telling them what they are doing well and what they need to improve upon?

If I compare this assessment to the checklist I wrote about last week it fails miserably. My first criteria was “Does this assessment inform learning?”. As I stated above it doesn’t tell the students anything about their learning. They usually never see the rubric unless they question their grade. The second criteria on the checklist asks “Does the assessment require students to demonstrate understanding?”. The answer is sometimes, sort of, kind of. They demonstrate understanding of classroom procedures and general topics like safety and sanitation as well as mise en place. However, the rubric never changes with the units so they aren’t being assessed on their understanding of any unit specific knowledge or skills.

I was so frustrated with this rubric that I changed it, and then the next year I changed it again. Each year that I have been there I have made improvements to the rubric and how it is used in the classroom but it still frustrates me to no end. What I would really like to see is a screen that has all of the students listed down the left side and all of the criteria listed across the top with space for me to assess each person in each area. Perhaps with room for comments down the right side of the chart as well. The feedback would not be in the form of numbers but indicators of performance. If a skill wasn’t observed for a certain student on that day then that could be indicated as well. Some of the skills and criteria across the top would change for each unit as the learning changes although others would stay the same.

In my vision of the new and improved group rubric it would all be electronic. As I walk around and observe the students I can update the chart on a laptop or tablet and at the end of the period hit a button that sends each student an individual report. The students could use the report to see which areas they are excelling in and which areas they need to work on. It’s possible that they could come up with an improvement plan based their evaluation of the report.

The joy and excitement I feel at the mere thought of such a system is incredible. I have yet to see a system that works the way I imagine though. Maybe I should approach it like the Kitchenaid mixers. I was tired of waiting for someone to fix them so I learned how to do it myself. (I’m sure my tech loving husband would help)