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Friday, February 26, 2010

Types of Math Assessments

Types of Assessment
• Pre-Testing
You might find it helpful to find out whether your students meet the basic knowledge and skill levels required to learn your materials. Use a pre-test to find out. Pre-tests are often paired with remedial materials.
Some teachers offer self-assessment pre-tests prior to the beginning day of class and offer students ways to catch up before the first day. Others provide time during the first week for students to do such things. Alternatively, you could pre-test prior to each module, week or topic.
• Objective Assessments
Objective assessments (usually multiple choice, true false, short answer) have correct answers. These are good for testing recall of facts and can be automated. Objective tests assume that there are true answers and assume that all students should learn the same things.
• Subjective Assessments
In subjective assessments the teacher's judgment determines the grade. These include essay tests. Essay tests take longer to answer and they take longer to grade than objective questions and therefore only include a small number of questions, focusing on complex concepts. Essay tests are best evaluated using some sort of pre-determined rubric of performance characteristics.
• Self Assessment
Self assessment types of assignments are provided for quick student feedback. Self assessments:
  • help the learner check if they have mastered a topic
  • provide opportunity to measure learning progress
  • are usually voluntary and may allow multiple attempts
  • inform the learner, but not the teacher
  • can occur whenever a performance activity is linked with feedback about that performance.
Self assessment examples:
  • practice quizzes
  • games, simulations, and other interactive exercises
  • practice written assignments
  • peer reviews
  • true-false questions
• Practice Exams
Practice exams and problem set homework are popular with students in courses which use exams for grading. Students who complete a practice exam usually encounter fewer problems on the official exam. Technical problems have been worked out, and the student knows what to expect in terms of types of questions.
It's important to let the student know that practice exam questions will be similar to what they will find on their exams. However, the specifics will differ based on course content. Students are very likely to complete a practice exam which parallels the real exam even though it does not count toward their grade.
• Group Projects
In real life many projects are team efforts. There is a great deal of learning value in discussion and collaboration. 
Smaller groups are more manageable. Teams of two are easier to coordinate than larger teams, although some courses do groups of 5 or 6. It is important to carefully assign the groups based on when they like to work and how they prefer to collaborate. Define clear roles, and include peer review of group participation as part of the grade. You can ask students to keep a log of their process and procedures. Provide a "panic button" for students whose team members are not participating correctly, so you can help them either decide to work alone or connect with another group.
• Peer Review and Audience
In the classroom, time constraints often prevent students from being able to review each others projects in sufficient detail. It is easy to post projects online where everyone can see them. The work is thus a public performance, a potential source of pride or embarrassment. It is helpful for other students to see the scope of work produced by others. They may be motivated on the next assignment by seeing other outstanding projects.
Peer review can be an effective learning technique. Taking on the role of judge is a different mode of understanding the goals of an assignment.
• Participation
Class participation can be an alternative method of assessing the student. A good way to encourage class participation is to make it part of the overall course grade. Class participation may include answering reflective questions in a course module, taking part in weekly class discussions, providing peer review critiques of fellow students' assignments, or locating and contributing online resources to a class-created knowledge base. As with essays, this assessment might best be implemented with a rubric of pre-determined characteristics. This allows the student to know what is being assessed.
• Other types of assessment
Alternative methods of assessment are limited only by your imagination. Consider assigning reflective journals, one minute papers, contributions to digital archives, or portfolios.


Sue VanHattum said...

The issues involved are complex, so my own position is unclear to me. But I thought you might like to consider two stands which differ from what you advocate. (I do think having less kids / smaller classes is vital to providing a good learning experience.)

At Love of Learning, Joe Bower argues that there's no good reason to grade.

And I just got this in my work email, regarding college level courses:

From: Faculty Focus []
Sent: Monday, February 22, 2010 6:47 AM


The significant question that arises is this: If I am grading on participation, what am I doing to teach this skill? Or contrarily, how can I grade what I do not teach? Students agree. I value participation in classes, we discuss it and I support students in trying out forms of verbal interactions, but I do not grade it. I now save the grading for things that align more specifically with the content and intended outcomes.

What I’ve discovered, expectedly, is that students who no longer associate stress with speaking in class are more interested in verbally questioning, dialoguing, opining, and critically analyzing – in other words they participate more, which is exactly what I wanted all along.

Christopher Willard is an author, visual artist, and educator. He is Head of Painting at the Alberta College of Art + Design, Alberta, Canada.

I'm intrigued by what was left unsaid - maybe not grading would help students learn the "intended outcomes" better, too.

ERKO said...

You know, Sue, I think a lot about grading. I hate doing it each time it is requested of me. I find that I grade tests on points, not by letter grade, and that my students, both university and middle school, request me constantly to translate them into letter grades. When report cards come along, I find myself debating why I give an A - or a B + I wonder if it matters and I usually say it doesn't. It isn't as if my grades really motivate the "less than motivated" to pick up the pace.

Bottom line, I am reading Outliers and am thinking that he has a point: people who get good grades are going to any way.