Assessment, Feedback, and Grading

This post marks my change from blogger to wordpress.

This year I have been introduced to range of assessment and/or grading systems that I will be or want to implement in various way:

Mandatory proficiencies:  With this, some subset of learning targets that are designated as “must-haves” before students are eligible to pass a course. For an example, see this post at Physics! Blog! The idea is that you as a teacher should be able to look someone in the face and say, “I can guarantee that every student who passed my class learned XYZ”, rather than say, “Well they knew 80% of the material” and be left not knowing which 80%. I like this because it makes you think hard about the “core” of your discipline and what you can expect from students.

A is for extra-ordinary: With this, excelling in normal classroom activities and their associated assessments can at best earn you a B. Successful completion of independent projects, investigations, or inquiries are the basis for B’s becoming A’s. For an example in math, see this post at Overthinking My Teaching. I think that Kelly’s synthesis method for A’s is a spin of this as well, see Physics! Blog! again. The idea is that B means students have learned well what you expected them to learn, and that an A has to be above and beyond.

Collaborative Development of Rubrics: With this, you are looking to engage students in the development of criteria for assessing quality in (their own) scientific practices. See for example, this lesson from Student Generated Scientific Inquiry. The idea is that if teachers just assess student work, then students will never understand how to assess knowledge, which is one of the primary-driving mechanism of science. It also makes grading more equitable and transparent. Andy does this with his collaborative oral assessments–getting students involved.

Student self-assessment as precursor to Teacher Professional Judgment: With this, you require that students self-assess before a teacher will assess, grade, or provide feedback on work. This usually guided by some rubric where students have to make the case for quality of their work or participation. The idea here is that I really want to be able to use my professional judgment as a teacher, but I don’t want that judgment to be hidden from students. Also, I want students to be in a position to advocate for themselves and show me quality work that I may have missed. My professional judgement doesn’t make me perfect, and I want students to prove me wrong.

All-or-None: With this, every assignment or standard is either accepted or rejected (although often times with possibility for revision). There are a lot of people doing SBG this way, but I am going with this system for just homework assignments. With this, I don’t have to agonize over whether some work partially meets some criteria or whether (and how much) partial credit to give. It either is or isn’t acceptable.

Show me you’ve learned it, when you learn it: This is also the basis of many SBG systems. Students can assess and re-assess on standards, and there are  few “high stakes” testing, if any at all.  The basis of this is that learning is non-linear and variable. Giving students high stakes tests all the time is like demanding your child learn to walk or say their first word on a particular day. Why would a teacher be so vain as to demand that everyone know something on a particular day and then not care at all whether a student learns that material well two days later. Giving students the autonomy to assess when they want comes with a degree of responsibility that I think many teachers are scared to give students.

Assessments with Voice: The idea here is that you want to hear your students explain things to get a better sense of what they know and how well they know it. Andy Rundquist is King on this, and this post has lots of links to his many posts.

Immediate Feedback: The idea here is that students get immediate feedback and immediate second takes–one way to do this on quizzes is by having student scratch off which answer they think is right. They can keep scratching, but lose points the more times they have to scratch! You can read about this system and where you can get scratch off papers over at  Joss Ives‘s blog. What I like about this is that assessment is tied to learning in the here-and now.

3 thoughts on “Assessment, Feedback, and Grading

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  1. I’d love to chat about it. Someone else we should bring into that conversation is Eric Brewe, who is at FIU. He runs a section of modeling for university intro physics. I have not witnessed it, but based on conversations and research they’ve done around the course, it seems to be going quite well. Have you met Eric? We both went to ASU, and he worked with Hestenes. I could invite him to Global Physics Department, and we could ask him talk about an energy-focused curriculum and/or modeling at the college level.

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