Monday, June 9, 2008

assessing understanding

At each point of our sections in which we emphasize overarching ideas, we will assess understanding. Frequent assessment is always important because it helps both students and teachers to see what is understood, and what needs more work. Frequent assessment also makes it clear to students what you expect of them. There are a variety of ways to assess what students know, but we will start with the traditional quiz, presented in a non-traditional way, through a Google form, which allows for a variety of quiz types, all in the same form. Most quizzes rely on memorization of facts, which does not always evaluate understanding. We want to utilize more interactivity by asking students to demonstrate what they know.

In the previous lesson, we asked small groups to come up with the four most important characteristics of Romanticism. They read an overview of the topic, discussed and debated the merits of given characteristics, and committed their decisions to a list. The teacher monitored the groups and clarified concepts, but did not lecture or produce the 'correct answers.' The first questions on the quiz revisit those discussions, and require brief textual responses:
Once they've proven that they have retained the outcomes of the previous lesson's discussions, it's time to demonstrate whether they can identify the lesson's intrinsic qualities outside of the lesson itself:
A checklist was used as a Google form type so that the test-taker could choose all that apply. Not one of these items has been discussed previously, so students must use what they have learned to make a decision about each item. Now, we'll bring reading comprehension into the mix, using higher order quotes in a multiple choice form type:
These quotes were chosen completely at random, therefore, students will have no familiarity with them, and must rely on their understanding of concepts.

Finally, we will end this quiz with an example of what they may find on a final exam, an explication of a quote. This is a quote taken from the overview material they have previously read and discussed, and will be answered in paragraph format:
All of the students' responses will be accumulated for you onto one document, so that you can easily see how their understanding is progressing.

The information itself may seem somewhat esoteric, but the ability to demonstrate knowledge is overpowering in the way it transfers to lifelong learning.

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