Generating Assessment and Feedback
Teaching and learning require two-way communication to be effective. As Angelo and Cross point out in their classic handbook, Classroom Assessment Techniques, while it is sometimes possible to learn without teaching, it is not possible to teach without learning: “Teaching without learning is just talking” (p. 3). Thus educators must complete the feedback loop: they must find out what their students are learning, when, and how, in order to target instruction for maximal learning. And educators must assess their own teaching to determine whether it is assisting or deterring student learning.
Please use these resources below to learn more about a variety of kinds of assessment. The resources are categorized under three subheadings:
Bonus link: Carnegie Mellon’s Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence offers “Solve a Teaching Problem,” a site that “provides practical strategies to address teaching problems across the disciplines. These strategies are firmly grounded in educational research and learning principles.”
Step 1: Identify a PROBLEM you encounter in your teaching,
Step 2: Identify possible REASONS for the problem, and
Step 3: Explore STRATEGIES to address the problem.
This resource is well-designed and offers valuable teaching strategies. http://www.cmu.edu/teaching/solveproblem/index.html
Bonus link: Field-tested Learning Assessment Guide (FLAG) offers a website entitled “Classroom Assessment Techniques” (CATS) that provides a wealth of information on a number of assessment strategies. While intended for those teaching in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields, the information on this site is applicable to many other disciplines. Click on the link below:
Expand your view of feedback and assessment
When you think of assessment, what comes to mind? Most people tend to think of what educational experts refer to as “summative” assessment⎯tests and papers that assess student comprehension of a body of material after instruction is complete. There are, however, other forms of assessment that may help students become better learners and educators better teachers when used in addition to summative assessment techniques and when used during the learning process.
Explore these resources for multiple ideas about feedback and assessment:
• Andrade, Heidi L. and Gregory J. Cizek, eds. Handbook of Formative Assessment. New York, Routledge (2010). This collection of essays is divided into three major sections. The first, “Foundations of Formative Assessment,” includes the history of the concept as well as an integrated summary of the research; the second section deals with methods and practice of formative assessment; the third section looks at the challenges involved in doing formative assessment and also at future applications of the concept.
T&L Guide: http://www.bgsu.edu/downloads/provost/file103241.pdf
• Assessing Liberal Education Outcomes Using VALUE Rubrics. Peer Review, 13: 4 (2011). Over a two-year period, the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) worked with teams of faculty and student-affairs professionals to create rubrics to assess AAC&U’s 15 Essential Learning Outcomes. According to the AAC&U, these rubrics “reflect faculty expectations for essential learning across the nation regardless of type of institution, mission, size or location.” The rubrics are included in this publication along with valuable information for developing and using rubrics.“reflect faculty expectations for essential learning across the nation regardless of type of institution, mission, size or location.” The rubrics are included in this publication along with valuable information for developing and using rubrics.
• Black, Paul and Dylan Wiliam. “Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards Through Classroom Assessment.” http://blog.discoveryeducation.com/assessment/files/2009/02/blackbox_article.pdf Black and Wiliam in this seminal article offer “firm evidence . . . that formative assessment is an essential component of classroom work and that its development can raise standards of achievement.”
• “Peer Assessment and Peer Evaluation” http://www.foundationcoalition.org/publications/brochures/2002peer_assessment.pdf A compact yet comprehensive resource on peer assessment that incudes links to sources on peer grading and Calibrated Peer Review⎯a program for networked computers that enables peers to anonymously evaluate frequent writing assignments.
• Rhodes, Terrel L., ed. Assessing Outcomes and Improving Achievement: Tips and Tools for Using Rubrics, AAC&U (2010).
This AAC&U publication is a good source of information on how to develop and use rubrics to evaluate student achievement. Assessing Outcomes includes rubrics for fifteen liberal learning outcomes. All of the rubrics in this publication were developed by faculty members and tested in a variety of different situations on different campuses.
• Taras, Maddalena. “Assessment: Summative and Formative: Some Theoretical Reflections.” British Journal of Educational Studies. 53:4 (2005). This article provides an excellent introduction to the topic of assessment in general as well as its theoretical underpinnings, while defining formative assessment as a subset of summative assessment. Taras calls formative assessment summative assessment with feedback. This is an interesting definition and distinction.
T&L Guide: http://www.bgsu.edu/downloads/provost/file84392.pdf
• Topping, Keith J. “Peer Assessment.” Theory into Practice. 48:1 (2009).This article provides a good overview of peer assessment, along with a detailed example of peer assessment in action. Topping discusses both the potential benefits of peer assessment as well as possible drawbacks. One major benefit that Topping emphasizes is the quantity of feedback students can receive in a peer grading system compared to what a single educator can provide. He noted that research suggests that what peer assessment “may” lack in validity, it makes up for that lack in frequency, which is very valuable to students as they learn.
• Huba, Mary E. and Jann E. Freed. Learner-Centered Assessment on College Campuses: Shifting the Focus from Teaching to Learning. Boston, Allyn & Bacon, 2000. This book is about learner-centered assessment in general, but it is an especially good resource on using rubrics as an essential practice in learner-centered teaching (Chapter 6).
Teach Students to Reflect on Their Learning
There is broad agreement that students learn much better when they take the time to reflect on their learning, to think about their own thinking, and make connections among current curricular learning, prior learning, co-curricular learning, and other experiences. As educational philosopher and reformer John Dewey has said, “We do not learn from experience . . . we learn from reflecting on experience.”
What is “Reflection”? First of all, by reflection we mean that students should spend time in deep thought about their own learning. They should think about what they have learned, how they have learned it, and the connections that exist between prior knowledge and new knowledge, between information learned in different classes, and between learning inside and outside of class. We also mean that students need to look at themselves critically as students⎯to look in the mirror to understand themselves as learners and to be critically aware of both what they already know and what they still need to know.
Explore these resources for multiple ideas about reflection:
• Barrett, Helen C. “Scaffolding Reflection with Adolescent and Adult Learners.” http://electronicportfolios.com/reflection.html. This massive site contains hundreds of questions that educators can use to scaffold reflection. (“Scaffolding” refers to providing student with questions or prompts to guide their reflections. In general, students who are not used to being asked to reflect will need help in the form of specific questions to answer. As students become more skilled, educators can provide less scaffolding and allow students more free rein.)
• Reed, Julie and Christopher Koliba. “Facilitating Reflection.” http://www.uvm.edu/~dewey/reflection_manual/ This website from the University of Vermont provides a complete manual on facilitating reflection. It includes not only extensive information on how to facilitate but also practical reflection activities and ideas for a variety of forms of reflection.
• “Reflection Toolkit.” Northwest Service Academy. http://www.nationalserviceresources.org/files/legacy/filemanager/download/615/nwtoolkit.pdf An excellent resource that includes sections on the benefits of reflection, how to design and facilitate reflection activities, and a comprehensive list of reflection activities that range from activities that take less than a minute to long-term projects.
• “Teaching Students to Reflect on Learning.” A PowerPoint with audio, created by BGSU’s Center for Teaching and Learning and intended to serve as a brief introduction to students. http://www.bgsu.edu/ctl/page109136.html
• Zubizaretta, John and Barbara J. Millis. The Learning Portfolio: Reflective Practice for Improving Student Learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2009. This book includes a review of reflective practice with respect to student learning portfolios, as well as many specific models of how to use electronic portfolios across programs, disciplines, and courses. It also includes a number of practical examples of actual student portfolios, as well as assignment sheets, rubrics, and other materials relevant to learning portfolios and reflection.
Develop a Self-assessment Plan
Teaching is not a job; it is a profession. And, as with all professions, it comes with a special requirement to continually improve. Nearly every day offers lessons to educators willing to pay attention. Educators owe it to themselves and their students to reflect on their teaching and to incorporate the results of those reflections into their practice.
Explore these resources for ideas about self assessment:
• Peters, Jean Koh and Mark Weisberg. A Teacher’s Reflection Book: Exercises, Stories, Invitations. Durham, NC., Carolina Academic Press, 2011. This book grew out of the authors’ extensive experience conducting faculty retreats. This book offers many suggestions and strategies for self-guided and group reflections, as well as reflection prompts and exercises.
• “Self-assessment" http://www.cetla.howard.edu/teaching_resources/SelfAssessment.html. This site at Howard University’s Center for Teaching Excellence provides a good introduction to a variety of methods educators can use to look critically at their teaching.
• “Teaching Perspectives Inventory.” http://teachingperspectives.com/drupal/tpi/summary-five-perspectives. Although this site has extras that come with a fee, the inventory itself is free and may provide you with interesting information on how you regard the teaching task.
• Weimer, Maryellen.Inspired College Teaching: A Career-long Resource for Professional Growth. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, 2010. This book walks educators through the full arc of their careers and focuses on the idea of remaining vital as a teacher. Just as we must remain physically fit, we must, Weimer asserts, remain “fit” as teachers. She maintains that only through regular and deep reflection can educators continue to grow and develop as teachers.
Here are two comprehensive resources:
• Angelo, Thomas A. and K. Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers. 2nd Edition. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, 1993. This is a huge collection of ideas for doing classroom assessment, a term that refers to ongoing, generally low-risk strategies for giving and gathering feedback on student performance during the process of learning. As the authors say, classroom assessment “provides faculty with feedback about their effectiveness as teachers, and it gives students a measure of their progress as learners.” Part I of the handbook provides an introduction to classroom assessment. Part II offers 50 different assessment techniques. Part III includes lessons and insights the authors have gathered since the first edition in 1998, as well as a look forward.
• Brookfield, Stephen D. Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, 1995. Although the idea of reflection has a long history, it was John Dewey who reintroduced the idea into educational practice. In 1933, in his How We Think, Dewey encouraged teachers to engage in “reflective” or “thoughtful” action instead of “habitual” action. Dewey called for teachers to look carefully at their own practice and to analyze and question what they do, with an eye to continual improvement. Brookfield has taken up Dewey’s torch and extended his insights in this major work. Brookfield not only describes the process of critical reflection, he also provides lots of practical examples that educators can use every day to become better teachers.