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Assessment February 24, 2014

Posted by jennienorgaard in EMTH 350.
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From my own high school experience I cannot say that I have experienced many different forms of assessment especially through mathematics. The only form of assessment we had for mathematics was the traditional paper and pencil exams and quizzes, to the occasional homework checks. Most of our assessments were based on the many unit exams we had and the weekly hand-in assignments we were assigned. Apart from mathematics I cannot say that I did experience a variety of assessment forms to begin with. We had the odd journal writing, oral reports and presentations for big projects and things like heritage fair, to some self and peer assessment. It wasn’t until university when I first encountered entrance and exit slips, open-ended questioning, rating scales and rubrics, to reflective prompts.

Through my own research on oral reports and presentations I learned a few things about this form of assessment that I didn’t know. I always thought these had to be in the form of a speech or paper, but learned through my research that it can also be incorporated through audio-visual aids such as: posters, slides, movies, models, or other demonstrations. Before this research process I had never thought oral reports and presentations could be done in a mathematics classroom. However, now that I think about it, if it were utilized in the correct way it could indeed be beneficial to consider. In a math class oral reports could be used to inform the teacher on what their students already know, what they didn’t understand about a unit, what they liked about the unit, what they didn’t like, to what they wish they would have learned. From these reports teachers can also learn how well they taught a unit, what they need to change for next time and what their students are still struggling with after the unit. Now that I think about it, I think an oral report or presentation can be more beneficial at times to use instead of an exam or test as not all students excel at writing exams. This way it allows the students to critically think about what they have learned in the class, what they wished they would have learned, and things like what they are still struggling with, instead of trying to regurgitate everything that they memorized the night before for an exam that takes anywhere from half an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. This form of assessment strategy also allows students to explain what they know in a paper if they cannot explain it in mathematical language. These are some of the advantages I found for this assessment strategy through my research, but like anything there are always disadvantages to things as well. Some disadvantages for this assessment form in a math class could be the idea that not all students are good at explaining in depth what they have learned in a paper as opposed to a conversation, and it may be difficult for some students to reflect on their learning in a paper for a math class.

From listening to other assessment strategies I learned that open-ended questioning is a form of assessment that has a variety of ways to answer and not just one correct answer. This is a great way for students to explain how they arrived at their final answer and why they chose to do their question in this manner. This form of assessment allows for students to represent their own learning and ideas in whatever way they want. There is no correct way in how you are suppose to answer or go about answering a question which allows for more students to willingly share their thoughts and ideas as they are not afraid since there is no one correct answer. This form of assessment allows students to share their ideas and thoughts more frequently in the lesson and it allows for students to make different connections to create a deeper understanding for themselves and their peers. I think this would be a great form of assessment to use at the beginning of the year to see exactly where your students are at and what they know.  Just like anything there is also disadvantages to this form of assessment as well. Another assessment strategy I learned about in our sharing activity was anecdotal notes and checklists. The purpose of this assessment strategy is to provide information about the student’s development over an extended period of time. This form of assessment also allows teachers to identify the instructional needs of their students and it is a form of assessment for learning. This strategy can be used at any time to record all and any observations of our students. Anecdotal notes and very focused and brief. They also provide a very accurate description of the situation and comments or questions that may be a guide for further observations. This form of assessment provides information such as the strengths and weaknesses of our students, which can help educators change or focus their lessons on certain areas. In order to develop a complete profile for students’ language abilities, interests and attitudes it is important to comment and record during different times and during different activities throughout the day. Although I learned a lot about anecdotal notes and records, I cannot fully say I understand how to utilize this assessment process. It is still a bit confusing and uncertain to me in some areas.

I think it is important to incorporate a variety of forms of assessment in a classroom as not all students excel at the same thing. By this I mean that some students may be able to demonstrate what they learned more accurately if teachers provide them with a variety of ways to do so. As teachers we also can’t assess our students accurately and fairly if we do not provide all of them with the same opportunity to express and demonstrate all that they have learned in whatever way is most beneficial for them. I think it is our jobs as educators to find the way that is most beneficial for our students to demonstrate their learning as in the end it is all for them anyways.

These different forms of assessment connect to assessment for learning in the sense that they are all a way of determining the progress our students are making during and throughout a unit. From these different forms of assessment teachers can identify different areas of their classroom in which they should change in order to benefit their students more and of course through these assessment strategies students are given valuable feedback on their own learning. These are all also a form of assessment of learning in the sense that all of these forms measure and record students learning levels in some way. Lastly, these are also a form of assessment as learning as they all give students an equal opportunity to further their own learning through the feedback they are given. Through these different assessment strategies students are given an opportunity to set their own personal goals and determine what they would like to work on and do better on for next time. In general, all these different forms of assessment are a great guide to help students understand what they are doing well and what they can improve on. In the end it is all about helping students learn all that they can in the best way that suits them so as educators we need to utilize a variety of different assessment forms along with all the different instructional strategies we are encouraged to implement. There are so many different assessment strategies out there for the simple reason that we all learn and understand things in different ways so we should take advantage of this as much as we can!

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