Classroom Assessments

Informing teaching and supporting learning

Authored by: Spencer Salend

The Routledge International Companion to Educational Psychology

Print publication date:  July  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415675581
eBook ISBN: 9780203809402
Adobe ISBN: 9781136675096


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Ms Lopez was concerned about her students who had struggled to learn fractions. She created an assessment measure to examine their fluency in adding and subtracting fractions and administered it to obtain a baseline measure. Following each instructional session, she administered the assessment measure and graphed the data, which she examined to monitor her students’ progress and to make adjustments in her teaching. Periodically, she asked students to make journal entries related to their learning of fractions by asking them to respond to ‘I understand …’, ‘It helped me when you …’, ‘I am not sure how to …’, and ‘I would like you to review …’.

Ms Lopez noticed that her students’ error patterns showed that they sometimes didn’t pay attention to the sign and had difficulty with fractions that had different denominators. Therefore, she taught her students to use the mnemonic LAP (Look at the denominator and sign; Ask yourself if the smallest denominator will divide into the largest denominator an even number of times; and Pick your fraction type) (Test and Ellis 2005), and monitored their use of the strategy by asking them periodically to think aloud.

Ms Molfese had been teaching her students about the solar system. Using an interactive whiteboard, she reviewed visuals about the sun, the moon, and the planets they had learned about so far. She then asked her students to use their wireless active responding clickers to rate their levels of understanding on a scale of one to four. After examining her students’ ratings, Ms Molfese felt comfortable that the class was ready to start learning about constellations. She introduced some of the constellations and sometimes asked students to use their clickers to identify the specific constellations that were displayed on the whiteboard. Periodically, she asked students to think aloud and explain how they arrived at their answers. Based on a summary of the students’ answers provided to her, Ms Molfese quickly assessed student understanding and determined which students were ready to start researching constellations on their own. She also used individualized student response data to identify those students who needed additional instruction before starting their research projects. At the end of class, she had her students complete an exit ticket that asked them to identify the things they learned about constellations and the things that were still puzzling to them. She examined their responses and used the information to plan her next class.

As part of the geography curriculum, Mr Loreman’s class worked on an instructional unit related to geographical landforms. To assess their mastery of the material in the unit, Mr Loreman created a menu of technology-based performance assessment activities aligned to his instructional goals. Mr Loreman shared the menu with his students, who then worked in groups to create their projects and share them with their classmates. As the students worked on their assignments, they accessed instructional rubrics posted on the class website, which Mr Loreman and his students had developed from a bank of rubrics available online.

Ms van Alstyne worked with her students to create a digital literacy portfolio. She made recordings of students’ reading and used them to track their reading fluency, and made digital observations of students engaged in literature discussion groups. Throughout the school year, her students selected drafts and final products across a range of writing genres to be included in their portfolios. Ms van Alstyne and her students wrote caption statements to describe the items and why they were selected, and included comments reflecting on what the item showed about the students’ progress. To assist her students in reflecting on their items, Ms van Alstyne initially asked them to complete the following statements: ‘I am proud of this work because ________________’, and ‘The things that helped me were ________________’. The items and their corresponding caption statements were stored in a digital portfolio by date and subject.

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