Sunday, May 10, 2015

Spring Week 4: Assessments

Effective assessment methods are a crucial part of the learning process and can provide valuable feedback to both the student and instructor.  Assessment of student learning provides feedback to the instructor on if learning objectives are being met, and allows them to assess their teaching methods and adapt their strategies to better achieve learning objectives.  For students, assessments contribute to a system that allows for students to be ranked against each other (grades), and can be motivating factor to learn.

We discussed benefits and limitations of two types of assessments:
       The goal of formative assessment is to monitor student learning to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by instructors to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning.
       The goal of summative assessment is to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against some standard or benchmark.

Formative Assessment:
- Allows for modification of teaching if students aren’t meeting learning objectives
- The focus is on the learning
- “low stakes” for the students
- Immediate feedback to the students and instructors
- Fosters a connection between students and instructors
- Easier for some students to perform on these types of assessments
Con’s:- Grading can be more challenging and time consuming
- Could affect course content covered, maybe substitute depth for breadth.
- Less motivating for some students

Summative Assessment:
- Allows for comparison to a standard
- Applicable to real world situations where you have to perform
- Can develop skills for high stress situations (“high stakes”)
- Can provide a platform for students to make connections
- Unambiguous grading
- Anxiety
- Focus is on performance instead of knowledge
- Not time to modify teaching if students don’t get concepts
- Concern about if it’s a valid measure of learning objective

The limited research on the effectiveness of formative assessment is reviewed in this article. 

We discussed this research article that evaluates the effectiveness of modified essay questions in assessing students problem-solving skills.  The authors argue that higher ordered cognitive skills were better assessed with multiple choice questions rather than modified essay questions. We discussed how the findings could be a result of question writers limited experience writing this type of question. We also discusses the value of examining our own test questions, and categorizing them according to the thinking skills that are tested using  Blooms taxonomy.

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