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Holistic Assessment in High School Physics

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                <p>The purpose of this article is to discuss that
assessment in physics education must be carried out holistically using
three essential assessment components. These three essential components
are <a rel="nofollow" onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackPageview',
'/outgoing/article_exit_link/3191048']);"
href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assessment_for_Learning">diagnostic,
formative and summative</a> methods. They should be used together to form
a holistic judgment of student achievement.</p>
<p><strong>The Importance of Student Reflection on
Assessment</strong></p>
<p>There is an enormous amount of value to promote reflective student
practice when learning physics. Invariably students are passive about
their learning and rarely go beyond the boundaries of what is being
taught within a classroom. It must be acknowledged that there are a very
small number of students that reflect on what they are told and believe
that the assessing to confirm understanding is one step to breaking down
this pattern of comfortable mediocrity. The assessment components provide
holistic opportunities to encourage student reflective practise.</p>
<p><strong>Strategies to Assess Holistically</strong></p>
<p>From a pragmatic teaching viewpoint it is useful to identify specific
teaching strategies and how these strategies link to an assessment
component. It is also important to realize that there are a host of other
classroom based generic strategies which can be modified and used for
each assessment component. These components of assessment, with specific
strategies, are described as:</p>
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<p>Diagnostic</p>
<ul><li>open questioning </li>
<li>brainstorming </li>
<li>quiz or puzzle</li>
</ul><p>Formative</p>
<ul><li>answering teacher's questions verbally </li>
<li>co-operative problem solving </li>
<li>writing or calculating and answer to a problem </li>
<li>clarification of concepts through discussions</li>
</ul><p>Summative</p>
<ul><li>examination </li>
<li>practical assessment </li>
<li>oral assessment </li>
<li>written assignment</li>
</ul><p>Furthermore it can be argued that if any form of one particular
assessment is used too frequently it will no longer be valid. Therefore a
range of assessment strategies are essential to promote better learning.
Therefore this discussion argues that for a holistic assessment in
physics education we must use a variety of assessment strategies from all
three assessment components.</p>
<p><strong>Holistic Judgments from Student Evidence</strong></p>
<p>There may be valid examples of evidence that the student has provided,
both diagnostically and formatively, that can confirm that they
understand the material that is being taught. This evidence may be needed
because a mistake was made during a summative assessment. For example the
evidence may have not been provided for the correct units with the
numerical answer of a calculation. Is this a genuine omission or does the
student not realize the importance of providing the units? It is likely
that if the student could look at the problem again he could tell the
assessor exactly what is wrong. The student could then provide the
correct units either verbally or in written form. He may have also
calculated the problem during a tutorial and provided evidence of the
correct units during this formative assessment activity.</p>
<p>This article states that using all three assessment components are
essential to probing understanding and therefore promoting better
learning in physics education. It is important to also realize that there
are limitations to any form of assessment, including over assessing, and
because of this there is a need for ongoing discussion. The limitations
of the different assessment strategies and the need for further dialogue
may be discussed in a future articles.</p>
<p>In summary what is recommended is an <a rel="nofollow"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackPageview',
'/outgoing/article_exit_link/3191048']);"
href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_assessment">educational
assessment</a> program that uses all the three assessment components to
gather just enough evidence to form a holistic judgment on student
achievement.</p>
<p><em>Further Reading.</em></p>
<p>Redish, E., Saul, J., &amp; Steinberg, R. <em>Students Expectations in
Introductory Physics. </em>Dept. of Physics, University of Maryland,
College Park, Maryland, 1997.</p>
<p>Osborne, J., &amp; Freeman, J. <em>Teaching Physics. A guide for the
non-specialist.</em> Cambridge, University Press, 1997.</p>
<p>Published with <a rel="nofollow"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackPageview',
'/outgoing/article_exit_link/3191048']);"
href="http://www.suite101.com">www.suite101.com</a>Â Aug 2010</p>
<p>Â </p>
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