CEP 813: Formative Assessment Design 3.0

Through CEP 813 I not only learned what effective assessments and feedback look like in theory and in practice, but I also learned about various tools and supports that can be used to differentiate assessments/feedback and consequently improve learning outcomes. Utilizing feedback and support from my professors and what I learned about Understanding by Design, I was able to merge theory, content, feedback and design to create the final draft of my formative assessment.

In my formative assessment design 3.0, I have elaborated on the connection between assessment and instruction, listed instructions for the teacher and student, provided a rationale for the technology tools I implemented, discussed my feedback approaches as they relate to theory and best practice, and lastly, I supported my assessment design as it relates to how students learn in theory and in context.

Here is the final draft of my formative assessment: Three Acts Math

CEP 813: Best Work

While trying to decide what I would characterize as my “best” work in CEP 813, I really had to reflect on how to measure or evaluate my “best” work. I think most people naturally assume their highest score or highest quality work represents their best work; however, I feel that my best work in CEP 813 is best represented through my growth and accomplishments, not mastery. Through lecture and play in CEP 813, I have come to appreciate the learning process much more than the end result. Consequently, I believe that some of my best work in CEP 813 was developed throughout Module 4: Using Digital Games for Assessment. Specifically, I believe that my best work is the Minecraft assessment I built to use as a tool to measure learning in my 8th grade math class. It may not be the highest quality of work I have produced in CEP 813, but it is the work that I feel represents the most personal growth as my accomplishments relate to all facets of this course.

Our creation task was broken down into two separate activities, which resulted in two separate screencasts. For the first part of the task, I explored the Minecraft tutorial world and then created a screencast of my explorations in which I played around, interacted with the environment, and I learned “the basics” necessary to navigate around the virtual world, or so I thought. In the screencast, I communicated challenges and difficulties as I encountered them and as they related to me personally. I also discussed the potential for using Minecraft as an assessment tool in my math classroom. This was an assessment FOR learning and we were assessed on the specifics of our reflection and the technical/production elements of our screencast. For the second part of the task, I was had to create an assessment in Minecraft and reflect on how my assessment design in relation to using Minecraft as a form of electronic assessment might benefit my students. In my second screencast, I identified the math concepts I planned to use in accordance with Minecraft as a way to assess student learning, and then I proceeded to navigate around my creation in the virtual world, explaining design features as they related to the assessment task. I also elaborated on how I would use my creation to measure learning. This was an assessment AS/FOR learning. The screencast was again assessed for technical elements and the rationale behind our design as it related to theory and practice.

In lieu of feedback, we were given the criteria that we would be evaluated on prior to beginning the creation task. This was essential for many reasons: [1] it made the purpose for the task transparent, [2] it revealed the expectations of the assessment, [3] it served as a framework that I could use to inform my design decisions, and [4] it provided an outline that allowed for direct feedback in relation to the specific assessment/evaluation criteria. In addition to fully understanding the purpose for the task and the evaluation criteria, the evaluation notebook was extremely valuable as it allowed for timely and detailed feedback that I could reference at any point and the comment feature made it possible to highlight and discuss specifics with my professor as needed. The organization of the feedback allowed me to easily make connections between my creation and the professor’s feedback so I could make improvements accordingly. The feedback did much more than convey a score. The feedback was thorough and provided specific examples and supports for areas that needed improvement or that needed to be developed further. Through the personalized feedback I received I learned more about how to use Minecraft effectively and also improved my final assessment creation.

Reflecting on my overall experience: at first, Minecraft appeared to be fairly easy to use and set up. We were given instructions that were easy to follow and video tutorials that explained how to navigate in Minecraft in addition to videos that elaborated on the affordances of using games in education. As a gamer, the “play” stage was exciting for me. However, once I began to create my own space in Minecraft, the excitement faded and the frustration set in. I realized that I didn’t really understand what I was doing while I played, and consequently, I didn’t focus on developing the skills that were necessary during the creation stages. I couldn’t figure out how to lay bricks down, and even if I did eventually figure it out, I wasn’t sure of the design in which I would lay them. Figuring out how to effectively use the virtual world of Minecraft in my math classroom was a challenge in itself. I had initially thought it would be easy to connect the three dimensional building blocks in Minecraft with a lesson on three dimensional geometry or isometric drawings, but after playing around on Minecraft and trying out a few different designs, I would reach the conclusion that the design I created for assessment would not result in authentic learning and could be more effectively completed without Minecraft. It wasn’t until I spent time reflecting on my commitment towards relentlessly creating a worthwhile task for my 8th grade math students using Minecraft that I realized the value of the virtual world and the creation task was actually in the learning process itself. That is, as I created in Minecraft, I was reminded of the importance of experimentation, play, and immediate feedback while developing new understanding. By default games provide automatic feedback, whether that is good or bad. They allow for collaborative workspaces and tangible learning opportunities, which in turn afford unique assessment opportunities that can inform instruction in ways that a traditional assessment approach could not. And, although I don’t necessarily plan to use Minecraft in my classroom, playing and designing in the virtual world, at minimum, gave me a greater appreciation for the learning process and forced me to reevaluate my teaching and assessing practices.

The assignments in CEP 813, especially the Minecraft creation task, forced me to learn outside of my comfort zone from perspectives I wouldn’t typically choose using tools that made me uncomfortable, like screencasts. This course has helped me learn to value different assessment approaches and the unique learning opportunities afforded through digital platforms. Through these experiences, I learned how to design authentic assessments through backwards design according to specific learning goals and how assessments situated in instruction can be used to inform and improve teaching and learning.

CEP 813: Self Assessment Blog Post – Sandbox for Professional Growth

Since I began the Master ‘s in Educational Technology (MAET) program at Michigan State University about two years ago, I have been using my WordPress blog as a way to submit work, reflect on my learning, and collaborate with colleagues. In CEP 813: Electronic Assessment for Teaching & Learning, I have had the opportunity to explore, examine, and learn how digital portfolios can be used as an assessment tool in educational settings. In fact, many of the benefits we learned about for using digital portfolios in classrooms mirror the benefits that WordPress offers to professionals utilizing it as a digital medium in the educational community. In this post, I will reflect on how the features of electronic portfolios, like this WordPress blog, afford opportunities for learning and professional growth.

Digital portfolios are easily used for self-assessment. Throughout the past few years, I have utilized this blog as a digital platform to organize, document, share, represent and reflect on my professional work. The digital format allows me to easily access my creations and provides a thorough documentation of my progress and performance throughout time. Being able to see where I started and where my learning experiences have taken me is rewarding and encouraging.

Unlike the paper portfolio, the digital medium makes it incredibly easy to compile, organize, tag, link, and revise work. I can easily locate work by searching tags, categories, courses, or even a specific time frame, making a digital portfolio an ideal option for multi-part work. In addition to serving as a platform for document and reflecting on personal progress and growth, digital portfolios make it easy for colleagues and other professionals to collaborate and provide/receive real-time feedback. As we have learned both indirectly and directly in CEP 813, feedback is an essential component in the growth process of any individual. We learn not only from receiving feedback, but also from reviewing our colleagues’ work and providing feedback.

Moreover, by publishing content on the web, I am not only establishing a digital profile and presence within my network of collaborators, I am also opening the door to a global network and audience, allowing for richer, more diverse feedback. By using digital portfolios, educators (and students) are able to make connections with other professionals on the web, establishing a sense of community in a digital context. This has been feature of WordPress that I have truly enjoyed since starting this blog.

Perhaps one of the most impressive affordances of using a digital portfolio for learning and professional growth is that it is both useful AND useable. Not only do digital portfolios allow users to publish text, images, files, etc., they are also accessible. Most Content Management Systems (CMSs) can be accessed on almost any networked device, such as but not limited to: cell phones, tablets, laptops, netbooks, and desktop computers. The ability to access and share information anytime, anywhere takes learning beyond the confines of the classroom walls and turns it into a life-wide experience, reconnecting learning and life. Likewise, the accessibility also extends to viewers who can see new postings in real-time, allowing them to post comments quickly and easily. This is a game-changer for giving and receiving feedback.

In addition to being useable, content management systems offer various tools and supports making them very useful. For example, the review comments feature that allows users to view, accept, or decline public feedback on posts prior to them being viewable to the public is very useful for shy users or users who lack confidence. This way they can still receive feedback without fearing what others may think when they see it. Actually, I prefer this tool so I can manage spam and unrelated posts, but from an instructors perspective, it is a great support to ensure students are not giving or receiving inappropriate feedback. Another useful tool is automatic email notifications whenever there is activity on your site or on the site of those you follow. This way users can manage their online presence and decide how active they want to be with other bloggers they follow.

While my digital portfolio could use some fine tuning and organization, I genuinely appreciate having a medium that allows me to record my thoughts and share my work. There are so many features and supports that digital portfolios offer that often go unnoticed. Before, I don’t think I truly appreciated the global audience and connections I have made with other professionals through this WordPress blog because I didn’t understand the importance of community and feedback. Currently, I value and appreciate the connections and dialogue much more than I had and from a new perspective, too now that I know how to use the feedback given. Before this course, I wasn’t entirely sure how to use a digital portfolio as an assessment tool, but as we bring this course to a close, I have a much better understanding of how utilize digital portfolios in my content area as well as how to assess student learning and provide effective feedback.

CEP 813: CMS Assessment Design with Haiku Learning

Assessments should be used as a way to gauge where students are in their learning and the feedback from the assessments should inform both instruction and learning. However, I think that more often than not educators are forced to give assessments that generally don’t align with their instructional style and fail to provide insightful feedback. Sometimes I feel like assessments are used just to provide some sort of data to parents…to communicate a grade in a way that parents understand, even if it doesn’t serve a purpose for improving teaching and learning. For me, I didn’t understand math until I was in college and was taught to reflect on my learning rather than erase mistakes. Based on my personal experiences, for my online math assessment design, I included both traditional assessment measures and nontraditional assessment measures such as, reflective think-aloud, investigations that require problem solving, reasoning, and proof, and collaborative workspaces.

Through both my screencast and this post I am going to tell you about the assessment I created for 8th grade math students enrolled in a fully online math class using Haiku Learning.

CMS: Haiku Learning

Log-in Link to Haiku Learning Math 8 Course, or you can self enroll using this link and by entering 527L3. Keep in mind, this fully online 8th grade math course is something that I am still designing and working on. It is a perpetual work in progress.

Subject Matter: 8th Grade Math: Pythagorean Theorem Unit (Geometry)

Assessment Location: Unit 6: Pythagorean Theorem; Lesson 1: Assess.

Age/Grade level: 8th Grade

Role of intended student: 8th Grade Math Student

Type of course: Fully Online

CMS SCREENCAST LINK

CMS ASSESSMENT DESIGN/CREATION RATIONALE:

There are several reasons why I chose to use Haiku Learning for my CMS assessment design. First, haiku learning is both effective and efficient: the design is clean, user-friendly, and easy to manage from an instructor and student’s perspective. Haiku Learning also has gradebook and multiple assessment features built into the site making it not only a great platform to teach learn and assess but also to communicate progress and proficiency accurately and in a timely manner to both parents and students.

Additionally, Haiku learning is extremely efficient from an instructors perspective as content is easily embedded and uploaded, as you can see in the videos and the multiple-choice assessment on the site. Moreover, for both teachers and students, there is an equation editor available any time you choose to type, which is key for math students especially in an online environment. Lastly, the calendar, announcements, discussion forum and Dropbox are just a few great features designed in the CMS’s infrastructure that make assigning, collecting and assessing a well-organized process.

For this particular task, the assessments I created are designed to measure whether learners have reached the desired learning outcomes at the end of the first lesson of the Pythagorean theorem unit. Since assessment should inform both teaching and learning, I will show you how the lesson design, activities, and tasks align with the assessment tasks, goals, and standards.

As shown in the screencast, the lesson and assessments are aligned with Common Core State Standards for 8th Grade Geometry and the Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Practice. Additionally, I explain how the assessment tools I have created will be used to measure proficiency regarding the basics of the Pythagorean theorem: what it is; why it makes sense; and how to use it.

The Pythagorean theorem is one of the main topics covered in an 8th grade mathematics geometry unit, which is also a standard students will be expected to further develop in both high school geometry and trigonometry. Furthermore, the Pythagorean Theorem is commonly present on standardized assessments such as the M-Step and ACT, and in the ever changing world of standardized assessments, the Pythagorean Theorem and its applications have withstood the test of time, making it a key standard for secondary math learners.

Specifically, for this task, I created three different assessments. For the first assessment, I used the built in assessment creation tool in Haiku Learning. This tool, the equation editor, automatic feedback, and direct link to the gradebook made Haiku learning an easy choice for this assessment. The last two assessments utilize the discussion board tool built in Haiku learning. Again, the discussion board tool has a built in equation editor and also allows students to upload pictures and documents to their posts. Perhaps the most impressive tool, though, is the built in rubric creation tool that links rubrics directly to assessments, discussion forums, and the gradebook, making Haiku learning the best choice for all three different types of assessments I created. In addition to those unique features, the discussion board assessment tool allows for collaboration and stimulates conversation.

These three different assessment tasks are designed to give all learners the opportunity to show they have mastered the skills in the first lesson. By differentiating the instruction and assessments, I believe I will be able to more accurately gauge what students truly know in addition to identifying misconceptions. That is, the multiple choice assessment allows me to check their computation and retention, while the metacognitive problem writing and reflective proof re creation assessments allow me to assess transfer, or each learners ability to apply their learning to new scenarios, in addition to each learners ability to consolidate and connect new learning with old. For example, in the Starbursts Re-Creation Proof assessment, I ask learners to consider using half of a Cheez-It on one side of their right triangle. By posing that question, I will be able to see if learners have made the connection between irrational numbers and the Pythagorean Theorem. Additionally, by having students write and solve their own problems dealing with the Pythagorean Theorem, I can ensure that students understand both the math content and vocabulary associated with the Pythagorean Theorem and how to apply that to new real world contexts.

Taken together, these assessments will accurately and effectively measure whether or not learners understand what the Pythagorean Theorem is, when to use the Pythagorean Theorem, and how to use the Pythagorean Theorem.

REFLECTION ON ASSESSMENT DESIGN AND IMPROVED LEARNING OUTCOMES:

Moreover, after reflecting on this weeks task of using a Content Management System to create an assessment, I feel as though the assessments I have designed align with my instructional design, which I hope stimulates learners’ curiosity, engages them in differentiated tasks, and intrinsically motivates them. By creating a collaborative workspace, students are able to ask questions and participate in interactions between one another.

I’ve also included traditional quizzes and non-traditional performance tasks. In addition to traditional assessments, which students may try to cheat on but I feel are still necessary, the performance tasks allow students to demonstrate what they know and evaluate their own learning through reflection. I tried to balance the types of assessments so that they scaffold learning but also inform teaching and learning in different capacities. For example, the results from a multiple-choice test provide much different information on learners’ understanding than the evidence revealed through reflective posts or performance tasks. I don’t think that one form of assessment provides an accurate measure of students understanding, so I included various forms that allow me to gauge where my students are at and how they are progressing using different approaches. Through this process, students will receive feedback regularly from their peers and me.

  • What went into your choices as you focused on certain aspects of your assessments?   While designing my online math assessments I decided I would take what I have learned thus far in the MAET program about online learning, how we learn and instructional design and combine those factors with the format and design of many of my MAET classes, which are also fully online. In addition to the design, I tried to focus on efficient, yet differentiated presentations of lesson content and assessments that aligned accordingly. This task has proved to be harder than I initially thought it would be. I tried to focus on including both traditional and nontraditional assessment methods that allow learners to demonstrate what they know. So, in addition to multiple-choice-like assessments, I made it a priority to implement performance based assessments, reflective assessments, and collaborative assessments. Regardless of the assessment type, I also focused on providing feedback within and throughout the lessons and assessments. For example, responding to reflective posts or setting up quizzes so learners receive automatic feedback based on their correct/incorrect answers.
  • How will your assessment of your students be a tool to grow your students’ learning? The assessments shown in the screencast are designed to inform teaching and learning. Through immediate feedback on lesson quizzes students are able to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Similarly, that data provides insight to me as their instructor on which areas I need to go back and re-teach. Moreover, the assessments I implemented in each lesson are designed to stimulate collaboration and reflection. This allows me to assess learners understanding on an individual level and within a community. For example, in the third assessment, students are recreating a proof using Cheez-It snacks and posting their findings to the class discussion. They are also writing their own real world problems and providing insightful feedback to their classmates. Through differentiated assessments learners are receiving feedback from multiple sources and are making adjustments in their learning as they progress, which ultimately leads to personal growth. In fact, learners will not only grow by completing the assessment tasks, they will also grow by reading and providing feedback to their classmates and reflecting on the process. Through this process, by providing multiple different methods of assessment in each lesson, I hope that learners are appropriately challenged and stimulated and if they aren’t that the data collected from the various assessments informs my instruction and allows me to make changes.
  • How will students be involved in the assessment and evaluation process? The way students are involved in the assessment and evaluation process differs based on the assessment design. For example, in reflective assessments, students will receive personal one-on-one feedback from me, sort of like the feedback we receive in our portfolio for CEP 813. Based on my feedback and questions, learners are able to modify and edit their posts and assignments. Moreover, in collaborative assessments, students are involved not only by providing feedback to their peers, but also by responding to the feedback they receive from their peers and me. In additional to reflective and written assessments, students are involved in their lesson assessment quizzes based on how they respond to their immediate feedback and score. They should accommodate their study habits based on their performance scores so they can make improvements by the time they reach the unit summative assessment.