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GQSP-assessment-deeper

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					Using assessment to deepen subject knowledge

This activity will help you to design more challenging and stimulating tasks for your A level
subject area or the Extended Project qualification (EPQ) and move the focus from summative
to formative assessment, in line with the revised requirements.


It should enable you to:


      recognise the opportunities to use assessment for learning (AfL) to encourage
       independent learning

      promote more independent and enquiry-based learning through the creation of
       appropriate learner tasks

      promote deeper understanding of subject areas and individual project choices
       through formative assessment.




Introduction

This activity is relevant to staff with the following perspectives:


      a subject specialist delivering A level courses

      an Extended Project supervisor with an interest in the subject(s) that their learners
       are focussing on in the EPQ

      a subject specialist with an interest in the subject area being focused on in the EPQ
       by their learners.




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Background
“...in some subjects, assessment focuses too much on factual knowledge and understanding
and too little on thinking and problem-solving. The revised A levels are designed to be more
challenging and stimulating, and to improve motivation.”
         Changes to AS and A levels: Improving the assessment system


In order to deepen subject knowledge through assessment, more focus is needed on the role
that can be played by formative assessment on learning, or assessment for learning, as it
has become known.


Schools-based research has identified a number of potential uses of formative assessment
or assessment for learning, such as those listed below:


    1. reactivating or consolidating prerequisite skills or knowledge prior to introducing the
       new material

    2. focusing attention on important aspects of the subject

    3. encouraging active learning strategies

    4. giving learners opportunities to practise skills and consolidate learning

    5. providing knowledge of results and corrective feedback

    6. helping learners to monitor their own progress and develop skills of self evaluation

    7. guiding the choice of further instructional or learning activities to increase mastery

    8. helping learners to feel a sense of accomplishment.


(Crooks, 1988 The Impact of Classroom Evaluation Practices on Learners, Review of
Educational Research Winter 1988, Vol. 58, No. 4, pp. 438-481)


Several of the uses of AfL mentioned above focus on ‘encouraging active learning strategies’
and ‘helping learners----develop skills of self evaluation’. In a previous activity, Deepening
knowledge and understanding through enquiry, you were encouraged to identify and extend




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your skills to use enquiry-based teaching and learning approaches. Enquiry-based learning
can also help learners to develop self evaluation skills and encourage them to become more
independent and more active in their learning.

Independent learners should be
“able to engage in self-reflection and to identify the next steps in their learning. Teachers
should equip learners with the desire and the capacity to do this for themselves through
developing the skills of self-assessment.”

Assessment for learning: 10 research-based principles to guide classroom practice (ARG,
2002)

You can also refer to the Using the principles of assessment for learning activity, for a full list
of the AfL principles.


One of the six skills areas within the personal, learning and thinking skills (PLTS) framework,
‘Being an Independent Enquirer’, also focuses on learners’ ability to plan and evaluate
information in their investigations.

Independent enquirers (IE)

Focus: Young people process and evaluate information in their investigations, planning what
to do and how to go about it. They take informed and well-reasoned decisions, recognising
that others have different beliefs and attitudes.

IE1 – identify questions to answer and problems to resolve.

IE2 – plan and carry out research, appreciating the consequences of decisions.

IE3 – explore issues, events or problems from different perspectives.

IE4 – analyse and evaluate information, judging its relevance and value.

IE5 – consider the influence of circumstances, beliefs and feelings on decisions and events.




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IE6 – support conclusions, using reasoned arguments and evidence.

Source: PLTS framework, QCDA

This activity is intended to help you bring together these different strands so that you can
plan opportunities for formative assessment which will enable your learners to become more
independent.


What to do
1.   Look at the example activity provided below, which matches some of Crooks’ uses of
     formative assessment and also the principles of AfL to a sample learning task.

2.   Identify a task within your A level or EPQ course which is currently only assessed
     summatively, for example the Extended Project oral presentation.

3.   Use the blank table below to plan a series of opportunities for formative assessment,
     which will enable learners to undertake a summative assessment more successfully.




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Example activity
Learning topic:                   Personality theorists

Summative assessment:             Examination question


Aim:                              Deeper understanding of the concept of personality and
                                  the ability to compare different theorists’ explanations of
                                  the concept of personality.

Uses of formative        Learning activity                  Principles of AfL
assessment
Reactivating or          What is personality?               Promotes shared understanding of
consolidating                                               the required learning for a given
                         Learners write down their own
prerequisite skills or                                      skill, topic or theme.
                         definition and then do some
knowledge prior to
                         independent research to
introducing the new
                         confirm.
material.

                         Feedback to peers and
                         comparison of findings.
Focussing attention on   Learners do an online test to      Helps to develop learners’
important aspects of the confirm their own personality      capacity for self-assessment.
subject.                 characteristics and how it
                         affects their
                         behaviour/communication.


                         Teacher summarises key
                         personality theorists and
                         discusses idea of theories.
Encouraging active       Learners work in teams and         Promotes shared understanding
learning strategies.     use online and library             of the required learning for a
                         resources to investigate a         given skill, topic or theme.
                         series of key questions about a
                         designated personality
                         theorist.




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Giving learners              Research and presentation        Promotes shared understanding
opportunities to practise    skills – groups research and     of the required learning for a
skills and consolidate       produce a 20 minute oral         given skill, topic or theme.
learning.                    presentation on their
                             designated personality
                             theorist, designed to share      Involves learners in dialogue,
                             knowledge and enable peers       decision-making and reflection.
                             to understand that theory.
Providing knowledge of       Oral presentation with           Provides opportunity for all
results and corrective       questions from peers, which      learners to achieve their best and
feedback.                    helps their understanding of     have their efforts recognised.
                             the presentation and tests the
                             knowledge of presenters.
                             Feedback from teachers and
                             peers on learning gained.        Provides opportunities for
                                                              learners to improve on their work.
Helping learners to          Learners write own self-         Helps to develop learners’
monitor their own            assessment of learning and       capacity for self-assessment.
progress and develop         write an essay – summative.
                                                              Provides information and
skills of self-evaluation.                                    guidance for learners, in order to
                                                              plan the next steps in their
                                                              learning.
                                                              Takes account of the importance
                                                              of learner motivation, through an
                                                              assessment method that protects
                                                              autonomy and provides
                                                              constructive feedback.
Helping learners to feel     Personality presentations        Can contribute to the learning of
a sense of                   recorded and posted for other    others.
accomplishment.              groups to learn from.




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Blank template
Learning topic:

Summative assessment:

Aim:

Uses of formative            Learning activity   Principles of AfL
assessment
Reactivating or
consolidating
prerequisite skills or
knowledge prior to
introducing the new
material.
Focussing attention on
important aspects of the
subject.
Encouraging active
learning strategies.
Giving learners
opportunities to practise
skills and consolidate
learning.
Providing knowledge of
results and corrective
feedback.
Helping learners to
monitor their own
progress and develop
skills of self evaluation.
Helping learners to feel
a sense of
accomplishment.




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Reflection
Having undertaken this activity, what improvements would you now make to any of your own
learning activities, to ensure that subject knowledge is deepened and AfL principles are
achieved? For example, would it be appropriate to challenge existing tasks with your
Extended Project team or subject team, suggesting additions or amendments to the criteria
for assessment? How does your learners’ use of PLTS facilitate the AfL process?



Next steps
Work collaboratively and effectively within the subject or Extended Project team

Having developed an AfL activity to promote deeper learning, review this with practitioners
teaching in other skills/subject areas of the Extended Project, using the checklist provided.


Group working

This activity would work well as a continuing professional development (CPD) activity for all
members of an A level subject or Extended Project qualification delivery team, as AfL
activities developed could be shared and further developed through the review process.



Links
Developing the expert learner: assessment for learning
Excellence Gateway

http://tlp.excellencegateway.org.uk/tlp/xcurricula/el/assessmentforle/index.html



Assessment for learning guidance
http://www.qcda.gov.uk/4334.aspx

Assessment for learning

http://www.assessmentforlearning.com/




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Crooks T, (2001) Tensions between Assessment for Learning and Assessment for
Qualifications

http://www.spbea.org.fj/aceab/Crooks.pdf

Association for Achievement and Improvement through Assessment
Assessment for Learning

http://www.aaia.org.uk/PDF/Secondary%20National%20Strategy%20Assessment%20for%2
0Learning.pdf




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