Posts tagged ‘motivation’

Engaging math for all learners

Click to buy this Eratosthenes teeBuy this Eratosthenes Net on a PiFactory tee-shirt

The UK extends its revised secondary (high school) national curriculum to 15-year-olds from September. The focus is on engagement, and in particular engaging all learners — regardless of ability — with rich, varied and compelling math activities.

And to reflect the new priorities, the UK’s public examinations — the General Certificate of Secondary Education GCSE — will boost assessment of applications and problem solving from 20 per cent to 50 per cent.

“This does not mean that technical competence is no longer important, rather that just being able ‘to do’ mathematical techniques will not be sufficient,” writes Sue Pope of the UK Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency* in Mathematics in School.

“Students will need to be able to think for themselves and decide when and how to use their mathematics to tackle problems within mathematics and in other contexts.”

The new curriculum is ambitious and defines “an entitlement of experience for all learners.

“Rather than labelling learners and restricting access, the richness of the entire progamme of study needs to be made available to all,” says Sue Pope. “Whilst this may seem daunting, particularly if you are used to teaching level by level… it can also be liberating.”

Mick Waters, director of Curriculum at te QCDA: “If we want young people to do well in mathematics, it helps if they enjoy the subject… to see that the subject is fascinating and exhilarating, to see the way it affects everyday life and helps to change the world in which we live.

“We have to strike a balance between the challenge of incremental steps in understanding, knowledge and skills, and the joy, wonder and curiosity of learning.

“It is not about ‘basics’ and ‘enrichment, all children should have a rich experience.”

For students to develop problem-solving and mathematical thinking schools “their classroom experiences need to be rich and varied”:

A rich mathematical task…

❏ Engages everyone’s interest from the start,

❏ Allows further challenges and is extendable,

❏ Invites learners to make decisions about how to tackle the activity and what mathematics to use,

❏ Involves learners in speculating, hypothesis making and testing, proving or explaining, reflecting, interpreting,

❏ Promotes discussion and communication,

❏ Encourages originality and invention,

❏ May contain and element of surprise,

❏ Is enjoyable,

❏ Allows learners to develop new mathematical understandings.

The QCDA worked with some 30 UK schools to develop programs of rich tasks aimed at “combining understanding, experiences, imagination and reasoning to construct new knwledge”.

Tasks and case studies are spelled out in the downloadable Engaging Mathematics for all Learners.

*Shortly after the election of a new Conservative government in May, the UK Department of Education announced legislation will be introduced in the autumn to close QCDA.

Advertisements

June 11, 2010 at 7:13 pm Leave a comment

Tilting towards Nrichment

Click to buy this Eratosthenes teeBuy this Eratosthenes Net on a PiFactory tee-shirt

TILTED SQUARES from the inspirational UK site nrich.maths.org is a great example of an open-ended math problem that leads to some deep math thinking… even among students who don’t normally show much interest in their math lesson.

The task at first sight appears to be quite simple. A square drawn on square-dotted paper is tilted by raising the lower right-hand corner vertically by one dot, and a new square is then drawn on this tilted base. The question is, what is the area of the new square? And then, is there a pattern to the areas with continuing tilts, as the lower right-hand corner is raised by a dot at a time? The immediate response of almost all the students in my classes was, the first square and the second square were exactly the same. This, even from my most accomplished mathematical thinkers. The Nrich site has an interactive program, so the square can be repeatedly tilted and projected. Even on tilt three or four students were still insistent the areas remained the same. Only when the square had tilted to become what students call a diamond, was there questioning.

My two most inquisitive students held out until after they’d carefully drawn and cut out the first two squares and placed one on top of the other before they would countenance any change.

Problems from Nrich seem to self-differentiate: two students who rarely are able to engage in more traditional exercises, quickly constructed on dotted paper a pattern of 18 tilted squares. They were excited. They were animated. And they wanted to talk about, and show what they had done. Others insisted on constructing the pattern on the interactive whiteboard. They did this while some of my more “analytical” students struggled to visualize and draw the squares, unable to identify the corners of a newly-tilting square.

Some students explored finding the areas of the square by measuring, and others tried Pythagoras.

The first found the results frustrating as they estimated fractions of a millimeter change in length, squaring the answers and ending up with lots of decimals and no clear pattern. The Pythagoreans built up tables and areas and tried to spot a pattern in the growth. They quickly spotted a pattern which they could verbally explain and extend, but could not or would not commit their analysis to paper, other than to list the answers.

Students were encouraged to try with a differently-sized first square. With a smaller starting square, the growth in area is more quickly apparent. The Pythagoreans could verbally list the areas with ease. But they refused to countenance any search for a method that could be committed to paper.

The majority drew several squares, and tried to estimate the area by counting squares formed by the dots — or just counting dots as an estimate. They could not extend to the results of the Pythagoreans, but were much more open to watching some hints on the interactive whiteboard: Why not a square with a horizontal base around the outside of any tilted square?

The area of the outside square, subtract four triangles and you have the area of the tilted square. The visual approach appealed to our early pattern artists, and provided the clue for the majority who were searching for a calculation.

Quickly more areas were forthcoming, while the Pythagoreans reluctantly drew some titled squares with exterior square… only to dismiss the approach with open scorn.

What if there are 99-tilts? The Pythagoreans raced for the answer, but could not agree.

Meanwhile another hint: Build up a table breaking each area calculation down into all of its detailed parts, including some reference to the tilt number. Use different colors for the numbers from different parts of the calculation, red for the tilt number, green for the side length of the outside square and so on. Is there a pattern?

What if the tilt number is n, representing the nth tilt? Can n be identified in the pattern?

The early doubters confidently give the answer for the area of the 99th tilt. The Pythagoreans are still arguing about the mental math, though there are signs on paper of the formula that was, indeed, in their heads.

And the artists had now produced colored titled squares and were demanding their works were now put on display.

Now that’s enriched mathematics. And nothing feels so Good!

❏ For more discussion about using open-ended questions to promote mathematical thinking… plus thoughts on what exactly constitutes math thinking see About Nrich: research plus articles

February 4, 2010 at 10:04 pm Leave a comment

Hope and change in my classroom

Click for math mindmaps from The PiFactoryGet math mind maps from The PiFactory

AS A HIGH-SCHOOL teacher I’m hoping that the election of Barrack Obama will bring hope and change to my classroom. Even a couple of quite simple changes could make a huge difference.

So, I’ve been surfing and listening to the pundits to try to glean a clue as to what might be coming post 20 January. It’s been a bit up and down.

It was an up that in November President-elect Obama appointed Linda Darling-Hammond, professor of education at Stanford’s School of Education, to head his education policy transition team.

Her title is Policy Working Group Leader for Education, and, unlike some of the other Obama working groups, her’s is not a shared post. Her brief is “to develop the priority policy proposals and plans from the Obama Campaign for action during the Obama-Biden Administration”.

Many hoped she would go on to be the pick for Education Secretary.

Alfie Kohn, writing in The Nation, said Darling-Hammond “tends to be the choice of people who understand how children learn.

“Darling-Hammond knows how all the talk of ‘rigor’ and ‘raising the bar’ has produced sterile, scripted curriculums that have been imposed disproportionately on children of color. Her viewpoint is that of an educator, not a corporate manager.”

Darling-Hammond is a favorite of teachers as the unusual petition which called on President-elect Obama to appoint her to the Secretary of Education post attested with some 2,000 signatures. “Schools are not, and cannot be run as businesses and that’s where public ed. is headed. Linda Darling-Hammond represents true reform,” wrote Bonnie Demerjian from Wrangell, AK.

However, Obama has not appointed Darling-Hammond his Secretary of Education. That honor has gone to Chicago school chief Arne Duncan, who is not an educator and who, many argue, very much sees schools as businesses. On the eve of his appointment, Bush Education Secretary Margaret Spelling hailed Duncan “a visionary leader. He’s a guy who looks at results.

“He’s a terrific school leader. I consider him a fellow reformer and someone who cares deeply about students. He’d be a great choice,” she said at a ceremony to help Chicago’s mayor Daley and Duncan give out $350,000 in merit pay to some of Chicago’s teachers and school employees.

Time-CNN reported: “He’s considered by most to be a quiet consensus builder. In Chicago, his knack for forging alliances can be seen in his strong relationship with the local teachers’ union despite his embrace of reforms the union is leery of, including school choice, pay for performance and a willingness to close down failing schools.”

Introducing his new Education Secretary Obama said: “For Arne, school reform isn’t just a theory in a book, it’s the cause of his life.” Obama specifically mentioned pay-for-performance teacher salaries and charter-schools development as strategies with strong potential noted Edutopia.

In a video interview with Edutopia, Duncan said, “quality public education is the civil rights issue of our generation”.

(Edutopia also has a video interview with Linda Darling-Hammond on social and emotional learning to help develop the whole child inside the collaborative classroom.)

But the editor of Substance, “the newspaper of public education in Chicago”, George Schmidt says, “to portray Arne Duncan as anything other than a privatizer, union buster, and corporate stooge is to simply lie.”

Commenting on the Schools Matter blog Schmidt details some of Duncan’s policy actions:

❏ No bid crony contracts

❏ Militarization of Chicago’s high schools

❏ Opposition to continued court monitoring of meager desegregation plan

❏ Opposition to Federal oversight of special education progams

❏ Charter schools segregation

Sam Smith, who has covered Washington for 40+ years and has seen nine presidents, writing at Undernews also takes Duncan’s reputation to task: “If we’re going to insist on judging our children primarily by how well they score on tests, we should probably do the same for education secretary nominees. The problem is that it spoils the fantasy that the major media has been creating around Arne Duncan.”

Under the headline “Flunkin’ Duncan”, Smith examines Chicago’s test scores since Duncan took over in 2001: “To summarize what has happened in Chicago schools: not much. Bear in mind, that even where there has been improvement, it has amounted to less than a 1% increase in test scores over a five year period.”

“Duncan — like DC’s school chancellor Michelle Rhee — has fostered a dysfunctional rightwing, corporatized system of education that not only isn’t working, it is damaging our children as it trains them to be obedient worker-drones incapable of analyzing or understanding what is really going on about them.”

Smith lists the following dangers:

❏ Teaching our children only to give the right answers and not to ask the right questions.

❏ Grossly limiting education to fact accumulation and basic manipulation of data, leaving little time for analysis, creativity, judgment, philosophy, gaining social intelligence, as well as learning about, and participating in, the non-mechanical aspects of life such as art, theater and music. This system deliberately teaches our children not to think.

❏ Through the use of charter schools, turning public education into what was known in earlier times as pauper schools.

❏ Damaging communities by destroying schools, institutions that not only served students but their parents and provided commonality in ever more atomized urban areas.

Kenneth Saltman, associate professor in the department of Educational Policy Studies and Research at DePaul University in Chicago, and Henry A. Giroux of McMaster University in Canada, write on Truthout that “Duncan largely defines schools within a market-based and penal model of pedagogy… he does not have the slightest understanding of schools as something other than adjuncts of the corporation at best or the prison at worse.”

They place Duncan’s tenure in Chicago as serving the Bush agenda of destroying public education: “The hidden curriculum is that testing be used as a ploy to de-skill teachers by reducing them to mere technicians, that students be similarly reduced to customers in the marketplace rather than as engaged, critical learners and that always underfunded public schools fail so that they can eventually be privatized.”

And after reading their long and detailed description of Chicago’s Renaissance 2010 project, it is hard to give Mr Duncan the benefit of the doubt.

Arne Duncan’s appointment was a bit of a downer.

So, Obama has brought on board educator and former teacher Prof Linda Darling-Hammond and CEO Arne Duncan to be the team of rivals that will oversee public education for the next four, possibly eight years.

What will it mean?

Prof Darling-Hammond met with the Council of Chief State School Officers in November in a closed meeting to brief them on the likely Obama education themes. According to Education Week Prof Darling-Hammond outlined the Obama philosophy as…

❏ Teacher quality, early education, and innovation.

❏ Mend, not bend, No Child Left Behind

❏ No cuts in education funding

Well, President-elect Obama has already pledged $10 billion for early school education.

But will teacher quality be Duncan-style sackings if test scores are not met? Or Darling-Hammond collaboration in the classroom?

Or, do they have more in common than revealed in the blogs and articles? Both have talked of mentoring for teachers, for instance. Prof Darling-Hammond’s call for a Marshall Plan for Teaching sounds as dramatic and urgent as Duncan’s talk of education as the civil rights issue of our generation.

Well, I don’t pretend to know or be able to predict. I just remain hopeful, and frankly, for the moment I’m hoping for more Darling-Hammond change and less Duncan change.

I suspect that Prof Darling-Hammond is more likely to be sympathetic to making the few small changes I need in my classroom… ending the emphasis and priority given to alpha-numeric grading and frequent testing in favor of creating a collaborative classroom where students are free to develop the essential life skill of becoming critical and creative thinkers.

December 21, 2008 at 3:16 am Leave a comment

Working inside the black box

Click to buy this Eratosthenes teeClick here to buy this Eratosthenes Net PiFactory tee-shirt

YET MORE research is now available to confirm that alpha-numeric grading and traditional testing not only do nothing to promote learning… but actually lower achievement.

Since the late ’90s the team assembled around Prof Paul Black at King’s College, London, has steadily chipped away at the traditionalist approaches to assessment with their Inside the Black Box series.

“In terms of systems engineering, present policies in the US and in many other countries seem to treat the classroom as a black box,” Black and Dylan Wiliam argued a decade ago. “Certain inputs from the outside — pupils, teachers, other resources, management rules and requirements, parental anxieties, standards, tests with high stakes, and so on — are fed into the box.

“Some outputs are supposed to follow: pupils who are more knowledgeable and competent, better test results, teachers who are reasonably satisfied, and so on.

“But what is happening inside the box?” they asked.(October 1998 issue of Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 80, No. 2.)

Their books and articles have since influenced tens of thousands of teachers and educational professionals around the world. But while their reasoning has changed both thinking and practice in the UK and Europe, it has yet to take a hold in US public schools which remain fettered by traditionalist, formulaic practice and teaching children to collect points.

Now Black, Wiliam and colleagues have produced a new series of slim pamphlets taking the argument further and giving specific advice and a wealth of teaching points tailored to key subject areas, with an overall summary Working Inside the Black Box.

The pamphlets, published by GL Assessment, focus on maths, english and science.

Working inside the black box means focussing on assessment inside the classroom with the priority of serving student learning: “It thus differs from assessment designed primarily to serve the purposes of accountability, or of ranking, or of certifying competence.

“An assessment activity can help learning if it provides information to be used as feedback, by teachers, and by their pupils, in assessing themselves and each other, to modify the teaching and learning activities in which they are engaged.

“Such assessment becomes ‘formative assessment’ when the evidence is actually used to adapt the teaching work to meet learning needs.”

Research experiments have established that, whilst pupils’ learning can be advanced by feedback through comments, the giving of marks — or grades — has a negative effect in that pupils ignore comments when marks are also given (Butler, 1988).

“These results often surprise teachers, but those who have abandoned the giving of marks find that their experience confirms the findings: pupils do engage more productively in improving their work,” says the Black team.

“The central point here is that, to be effective, feedback should cause thinking to take place… the assessment of pupils’ work will be seen less as a competitive and summative judgement and more as a distinctive step in the process of learning.

“The key to effective learning is to then find ways to help pupils restructure their knowledge to build in new and more powerful ideas… that learning was not a process of passive reception of knowledge, but one in which the learners were active in creating their own understandings. Put simply, it became clear that, no matter what the pressure to achieve good test and examination scores, learning cannot be done for the pupil; it has to be done by the pupil.”

Teachers in the UK involved in a two-year experiment demanded to learn more about the psychology of learning after working on such formative assessment practice in the classroom:”Learning is not just a cognitive exercise: it involves the whole person. The need to motivate pupils is evident, but it is often assumed that this is best done by offering such extrinsic rewards s merits, grades, gold stars and prizes. There is ample evidence that challenges this assumption.

“Pupils will only invest effort in a task if they believe that they can achieve something. If a learning exercise is seen as a competition, then everyone is aware that there will be losers as well as winners: those who have a track record as losers will see little point in trying.

“Thus, the problem is to motivate everyone, even though some are bound to achieve less than others. In tackling this problem, the type of feedback given is very important.

“Feedback given as rewards or grades enhances ego — rather than task — involvement. It can focus pupils’ attention on their ‘ability’ rather than on the importance of effort, damaging the self-esteem of low attainers and leading to problems of ‘learned helplessness’ (Dweck 1986).

“Feedback that focusses on the needs to be done can encourage all to believe that they can improve. Such feedback can enhance learning, both directly through the effort that can ensue, and indirectly by supporting the motivation to invest such effort.

“When feedback focusses on the student as a good or bad achiever, emphasising overall judgement by marks, grades or rank order lists, it focusses attention on the self (what researchers have called ego-involvement).

“A synthesis of 131 rigorous scientific studies showed this kind of feedback actually lowered performance (Kluger + DeNisi 1996). In other words, performance would have been higher if no feedback had been given.

“This is because such feedback discourages the low attainers, but also makes high attainers avoid tasks if they cannot see their way to success, for failure would be seen as bad news about themselves rather than an opportunity to learn.

“In contrast, when feedback focuses not on the person but on the strengths and weaknesses of the particular piece or work (task-involving feedback) and what needs to be done to improve, performance is enhanced, especially when feedback focuses not only what is to be done but also on how to go about it.

“Such feedback encourages all students, whatever their past achievements, that they can do better by trying, and that they can learn from mistakes and failures (see Dweck 1999).”

Quotes taken from:

Working Inside the Black Box, Dept of Education + Professional Studies, King’s College London by Paul Black, Christine Harrison, Clare Lee, Bethan Marshall and Dylan Wiliam

Mathematics Inside the Black Box, Dept of Education + Professional Studies, King’s College London, by Jeremy Hodgen and Dylan Wiliam.

❏ If this article was of interest, try… No prizes in points

❏ PiFactory’s descriptive grading rubrics can be found at: pifactory.net/catalog/assess_page_one.html

October 18, 2008 at 9:23 pm 1 comment

The research gives testing an F

Click for math mindmaps from The PiFactoryGet math mind maps from The PiFactory

FINALS week and the school goes effectively into something akin to lock-down. Students are tense, withdrawn, depressed. So are the teachers. For me it’s the most depressing week of the semester.

For the past couple of years I’ve managed to work round it completely. Instead of a final where students work in isolation for an hour-plus to show how well they cope with stress, I’ve organized sessions where students pick a couple of challenging questions from a packet and work collaboratively in groups to show their best work.

Each question is labelled with the math skill most needed. The kids are asked to pick questions based on the skills they’ve not fully understood during the semester.

The room has usually been buzzy with chatter. If they get stuck, I help out. When everyone has had enough the kids complete a form explaining why they should get the grade they think they deserve. Then we play chess.

The final grade is based on a descriptive grades rubric which the kids were given on day one of the semester. All work throughout the semester is graded on descriptive rubrics.

The policy of other teachers varies: Some run sessions which amount to little more than giving a quiz right through to the full-blown terror thing. 

Finals brings out the simmering discussion between the Skinnerite behaviourists who sincerely believe you train students to behave like learners in the hope they become learners…and constructivists who believe students construct meaning and learning for themselves and their teachers try to create the atmosphere where that happens. 

I’m a constructivist. And I don’t believe testing helps students create their own meaning which in turn becomes learning. In fact, I believe testing can be a crippling blow to the learning hopes of many pupils.

My aspirations are summed up by this brief section from Alfie Kohn’s The Schools our Children Deserve:

“… the best teachers do not rely much on paper-and-pencil tests because they rarely need them to know how their students are doing. Teachers who base their practice on a constructivist theory of learning are always watching and listening… this kind of informal assessment is continuous, making things like quizzes very nearly superfluous.

 “We might even say that the more a teacher needs formal tests to gauge student achievement, the more something is wrong. (With direct instruction, the teacher is talking more than listening, so traditional exams would be seen as necessary.)

“As parents, we shouldn’t be worried about teachers who rarely give tests; we should be worried about those who need to give frequent tests because they have no feel fo how their students’ minds work.”

So, unburdened by the need to spend hours with my red pen ticking and counting and working out percentages to many decimal places… I spent some time reading some research on testing.

The Assessment Reform Group, based at the UK’s Cambridge University school of education, has been in the lead in argueing for constructivist forms of assessment. Its pamphlet Testing, Motivation and Learning a classic. It reviewed 180-plus studies. It is tempting to simply quote the document in full… but here’s a representative selection of its conclusions.

Testing has a negative affect on pupil motivation.

The self-esteem of low-achieving pupils is particularly adversely affected by testing.

The testing ethos narrows the curriculum.

When tests pervade the ethos of the classroom, performance is more highly valued than what is being learned.

Repeated test practice encourage pupils to avoid responsibility and effort. It is detrimental to higher-order thinking.

Pupils should not be faced with tests in which they are unlikely to experience success.

“What emerges is strong evidence of the negative impact of testing on pupils’ motivation… Many aspects of the impact have significant consequences for pupils’ future learning. and thus are causes for concern.”

“One impact of the tests was the reduction in self esteem of those pupils who did not achieve well.”

“Pupils are aware of repeated practice tests and the narrowing of the curriculum. Only those confident of success enjoy the tests. In taking tests, high achievers are more persistent, use appropriate test taking strategies and have more positive self-perceptions than low achievers. Low achievers become overwhelmed by assessments and de-motivated by constant evidence of their low achievement. The effect is to increase the gap between low and high achieving pupils.”

“Lower achieving pupils are doubly disadvantaged by tests. Being labelled as failures has an impact on how they feel about their ability to learn. It also lowers further their already low self-esteem and reduces the chance of future effort and success. Only when low achievers have a high level of support (from school or home), which shows them how to improve, do some escape from this vicious circle.”

“When tests pervade the ethos of the classroom, test performance is more highly valued than what is being learned. When tests become the main criteria by which pupils are judged, and by which they judge themselves, those whose strengths lie outside the subjects tested have a low opinion of their capabilities.”

“The use of repeated practice tests impresses on pupils the importance of the tests. It encourages them to adopt test-taking strategies designed to avoid effort and responsibility. Repeated practice tests are, therefore, detrimental to higher order thinking.”

“The evidence suggests that teachers can be very effective in training pupils to pass tests even when the pupils do not have the understanding or higher order thinking skills that the tests are intended to measure. When test results are used for making decisions that affect the status or future of pupils, teachers or schools (‘high stakes tests’), teachers adopt a teaching style that emphasises transmission of knowledge. This favours those pupils who prefer to learn by mastering information presented sequentially. Those who prefer more active and creative learning experiences are disadvantaged and their self-esteem is lowered. External tests have a constricting effect on the curriculum, resulting in emphasis on the subjects tested at the expense of creativity and personal and social development.”

“The results of tests that are ‚”high stakes” for individual pupils have been found to have a particularly strong impact on those who receive low grades. However, tests that are high stakes for schools rather than for pupils (such as the national tests in England and state-mandated tests in the US) can have just as much impact.”

“Instead of motivation increasing with age, older pupils feel more resentment, anxiety, cynicism and mistrust of standardized achievement tests. Girls are reported as expressing more test anxiety than boys. Girls are also more likely to think that the source of success or failure lies within themselves rather than being influenced by external circumstances. This has consequences for their self-esteem, especially when they view their potential as fixed.”

“Feedback from the teacher that focuses on how to improve or build on what has been done (described as task-related) is associated with greater interest and effort. Feedback that emphasises relative performance, for example marks or grades which are formally or informally compared with those of others, encourages pupils to concentrate on getting better grades rather than on deeper understanding.”

The degree to which learners are able to regulate their own learning also appears to foster pupils’ interest and to promote focus on the intrinsic features of their work (15). Pupils who have some control over their work by being given choice and by being encouraged to evaluate their own work are more likely to value the learning itself rather than to focus only on whether or not it is correct.”

The research shows that the negative impact of tests can be reduced by ceasing to focus teaching on test content. It can also be reduced by ending the practice of ‘training’ pupils in how to pass the tests and by preventing the use of class time for repeated practice tests. Pupils should not be faced with tests in which they are unlikely to experience success.”

The ARG says do more of this…

q    Provide choice and help pupils to take responsibility for their learning.

q    Discuss with pupils the purpose of their learning and provide feedback that will help the learning process.

q    Encourage pupils to judge their work by how much they have learned and by the progress they have made.

q    Help pupils to understand the criteria by which their learning is assessed and to assess their own work.

q    Develop pupils’

understanding of the goals of their work in terms of what they are learning; provide feedback to pupils in relation to these goals.

q    Help pupils to understand where they are in relation to learning goals and how to make further progress.

q    Give feedback that enables pupils to know the next steps and how to succeed in taking them. Encourage pupils to value effort and a wide range of attainments.

q    Encourage collaboration among pupils and a positive view of each others’ attainments.

and do less of this …

q    Define the curriculum in terms of what is in the tests to the detriment of what is not tested.

q    Give frequent drill and practice for test taking. Teach how to answer specific test questions. Allow pupils to judge their work in terms of scores or grades.

q    Allow test anxiety to impair some pupils’ performance (particularly girls and lower performing pupils). Use tests and assessment to tell students where they are in relation to others.

q    Give feedback relating to pupils’ capabilities, implying a fixed view of each pupil’s potential.

q    Compare pupils’ grades and allow pupils to compare grades, giving status on the basis of test achievement only.

q    Emphasise competition for marks or grades among pupils.

For a constructive alternative to testing take a look at the ARGs pamphlet  Assessment for Learning:Beyond the Black Box.

There’s lots more at The Assessment Reform Group.

And Alfie Kohn on testing is an inspiring read.

You can get my grading rubrics and some further thoughts at The PiFactory assessment page.

February 16, 2008 at 9:20 pm Leave a comment


Categories

Recent Posts

The PiFactory archive