¶ … Activities
Activity #1: Discuss the pros and cons of testing from two perspectives: (1) as a test-taker and (2) as a test-giver
From the point-of-view of the test-taker, the 'cons' of taking a test seem obvious. Besides the nerves and the fear of being put under pressure, from the test-taker's point-of-view being tested requires subjecting something quite unique, namely their individual human mind, to an objective test that cannot take into consideration adverse circumstances, from a lack of engagement with the material, poor teaching, or an eccentric learning style. Testing can thus discourage creativity and a sense of fun in learning for the test taker. Test can also encourage students to learn how to take a particular teacher's tests, rather than to truly learn and actively engage with the material on an individual basis like a research paper.
This is also the downside of testing from the teacher's perspective as well. However, one of the 'pros' of testing, from the teacher's perspective, is that testing provides feedback regarding a student's ability to comprehend the material. How else can a teacher measure if students have grasped objective concepts such as the multiplication tables, other than through testing? True, individual examinations and asking students to explain the concepts could replace testing, but in overcrowded classrooms, such solutions may prove ineffective and impractical.
Also, students must learn to take tests, as students will be graded through objective, standardized tests throughout their academic lives, even if an individual teacher disagrees with the methodology of testing. Subjecting students to appropriate levels of academic pressure is part of the nature of schooling, as well as teaching students to think and understand. Even from a student's perspective, testing can provide some satisfaction of making it clear to him or her what he or she should know at the end of any given chapter, and what was the purpose of all the time and effort he or she devoted to that chapter. Although the test itself may not be pleasant as will invariably be a pressurized situation, excelling in a quantifiable way is a source of pleasure to many students, and seeing students excel in quantifiable methods is an important though underrated source of gratification for the teacher.
Activity #2: Identify the major characteristics that distinguish a norm-referenced test, criterion-referenced test, and an alternative assessment instrument like a portfolio or an observation record. Discuss instructional settings and situations that require each of the three types of assessment instruments.
A norm-referenced test measures students against certain norms, or normal standards, irrespective of the content taught in the classroom. Usually, it may apply to what is taught by a particular teacher, it may not -- what is crucial is the student's ability to perform along the lines of certain normal standards of behavior, although grading a class on a curve is one specific norm-referenced test that is particular to an enclosed classroom, outside of the 'real world.' However, classic norm-based tests are usually standardized tests that measure student performances against a larger group of individuals, such as the IOWA tests or the SATs. However, other examples of norm-based tests are Piaget's skill building tests. Norm-based tests are more appropriate when assessing the cumulative effects of an educational environment although they may be used when assessing student mastery of quantitative subjects. (Fair Test, 2004) criterion-based test in contrast measures students against specific criteria for successful mastery. For instance, students in a math class might be assessed on their ability to add and subtract, and to show successful mastering of the concept of borrowing or the concept of 'zero.' They are not measured against another group of people or graded on a curve, what is at issue is how well they understand a particular body of material. This test is most useful in ensuring students have mastered basic concepts of language, foreign languages as well as the phonetics of their own native tongue, and math and science subjects of a quantitative manner.
A portfolio review, in contrast, is perhaps most useful in assessing student performance in terms of seeing how excelling in creative and expressive...
However, portfolios can be used in the sciences, when students have embarked upon comprehensive research projects that evolve and shape over time. Likewise, evaluations such as classroom observations, although not quantitative in manner except in the fact that they might be assessed on a numerical scale (such in a music class a 'Soprano Voice,' might be rated post-performance levels of excellence 1-6), can be useful in assessing student's ability to communicate effectively in classroom debate. In history class, for example, students could be observed during a discussion, or younger children could be asked to manipulate age-appropriate equipment to multiply and divide in a physical manner, or even to use a video camera or manipulate art or musical devices they had been instructed in, to create before the teacher's eyes and grading pen.
Activity #3: Select a content area of interest (e.g., math, reading, science, music). Develop two objectives each at the knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation level.
According to Bloom's Taxonomy, for reading as a content area of interest, to demonstrate a level of knowledge, students can show that they have retained the basic plot structure of a story read to them, for instance that of Charlotte's Web. (Bloom, 2004) Students can also identify on the point-of-view of knowledge, the definitions of particular vocabulary words. Thus the objectives of such a knowledge-based lesson on a text would be to firstly retain the plot of the story and secondly to define vocabulary words.
On a level of comprehension, students could be asked about the emotional aspects of a story. For instance, did Wilbur feel sad at Charlotte's death, and did her death teach him anything? Students could also be asked if they can think of any other sad stories with happy endings. Thus, the two objectives of such a lesson would be to emotionally comprehend the meaning of Charlotte's Web, and to engage the text with other aspects of their reading life. (ABC Teach, 2004)
To apply their knowledge, students could be asked to create a collage of the story, or a play of the book, to show that they could lift the story off of the page. The two objectives would be to create using literature as a template, and to engage emotionally on an aural level with the text.
To show their grasp analysis, students could be asked to compare two characters in a story, such as Charlotte and Templeton the rat. Students could also be asked if they felt the farmer of the tale, who contemplated killing Wilbur the pig for food, was a bad man? The objective would be first, an analysis of moral evaluation of characters and second an analysis of the moral issues of story.
Synthesis could be shown comparing the book with similar films, such as "Babe," and with events in their own life, such as a visit to the farm. The objectives would be that students could integrate their understanding of a book with other non-print media and secondly with other aspects of their own lives.
Evaluation objectives could first be accomplished through administering a simple essay test on a book, and then to write a book report of a text used in class, evaluating it as a text.
Activity #5: Write an essay question and develop a detailed scoring rubric for it. Be thorough in the development of the rubric.
Essay Question: Many events in my life have taught me about myself. But the event that taught me the most was (blank). The reason this event taught me so much was (blank).
Write an essay in five paragraphs, including an introduction and a conclusion. Begin your introduction with the three sentences above. For the rest, you're on your own! There are no right answers -- use your own creativity, and apply what you have learned from life and class!
Grading Criteria 1-6 (Derived from College Board, 2004)
Six: Student shows mastery of concepts, language, and higher-level ideas. The student has written a well-structured essay with minimal grammatical mistakes.
Five: Student shows good understanding of concepts, language, and higher-level ideas. The student has written a well-structured essay with only a few grammatical mistakes.
Four: Student shows average understanding of concepts, language, and higher-level ideas. The student has written an average-structured essay with some serious grammatical mistakes but overall is able to communicate his or her ideas.
Three: Student shows some understanding of concepts, language, and has some developed ideas, some not so developed. The student has written a semi-structured essay with some serious grammatical mistakes.
Two: Student shows poor understanding of concepts, language, and higher-level ideas. Essay has poor structure with many grammatical mistakes.
One: Student did not complete or do assignment, violated instructions, or essay is illegible or incomprehensible.
Activity #6: Select a classroom behavior of interest (e.g., gross motor skills in a preschooler or an effective speech by an eleventh…
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