Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Assessment Challenge

If you have read anything on this blog, you would know that I am not a huge fan of standardized or traditional testing.  I typically like the "show me what you know in any format you choose", but sometimes I just want to know where they all are content wise.

Here is one way I assess student learning:  the "Test"

My test today is 22 questions - multiple choice, free response, and identification of structure and function of the digestive system.  It is set up in Blackboard, our LMS.

The first 15 minutes, students take the test traditional style - by themselves, no notes, no Google.  The purpose of this 15 minutes - for them to test themselves. What do they know?  What do they feel confident about? What are they unsure about?  What do they have no ideas on?

After 15 minutes, the test is open resource - Google, notes, iTunes U, Life on Earth book, and a partner.  This is the cool part --- they analyze every question and discuss why they answered the way they did. They defend why they answered the way they did.  They try to determine which person is more confident in the answer and consult with Google.  Here are some comments I heard today:

"I am confused about the insulin and resistin question, what did you have in your notes on that?"

"Wait, that website you are on is a blog, lets check a more credible site to make sure we are right."

"Oh that makes so much more sense."

What I observed:
Kids were having conversations about science and explaining things to each other. They were 100% focused for the entire 50 minute class period and the test took the entire period.  They were listening to each other and processing information in a way they would never do with a scantron test by themselves.

If they took this test alone the traditional way, they would have been done in 20 minutes, guessing at the ones they didn't know and forgetting about it as soon as they left the room.

I also discovered that they have a misunderstanding of one of the questions and the majority of them will probably miss it - and I know why.  I will toss that question out. Without their conversations, I would have known a lot missed that one, but wouldn't have understood how they interpreted the question differently than I intended.

The questions on the test are not memorization style questions.  They are all application types that really can't be directly Googled. They can Google a lot of information, but if they truly do not comprehend the content, they can't answer the questions.

What are they learning:
Collaboration, proper research skills, and other "working together" type of things.  More importantly, they are learning to really learn and how to problem solve.

The Challenge!
I challenge you to assign one assessment this way and see what you think.  Let me know how it goes. :)


  1. Love this and totally gonna try this on my next 7th grade test!

  2. I love this style of assessing and miss this part of the classroom this year. However, I will promote this style of testing to those on my team and campus when I can!