Saturday, September 28, 2013

It's Still About a Duck | September 20, 2013

Andrew Taylor

A good assessment is a learning experience. Simply, there is seldom a time when all the teacher needs are answers, without pausing for student reflection or giving them a plan of action. Take this professor, for example. He's giving an assessment, but what learning is occurring?

Facilitate effective assessment and feedback with technology
On Mondays, my students of Advanced Placement European History have a quiz on their textbook reading. These assessments are each worth a meager 1% of their grade. While offering a token of "accountability," the real purpose is to provide students with immediate feedback about their understanding. Here are the steps:
  1. Students use their phone to login to a teacher-made quiz hosted on a free service like Socrative.
  2. They answer 15 multiple choice questions about the textbook reading.
  3. After each question, the student receives immediate feedback on their device about whether their answer is correct.
  4. The student immediately records in their notes which topics require further study. The feedback is individualized for the particular student. No longer does the teacher spend time "going over" questions that 90% of the students understand.
  5. The teacher sees both individual results from students and group understanding in real-time as the test is being delivered.
  6. After the assessment, the teacher can immediately address in direct instruction the specific concepts a large segment of the students need assistance with.
  7. Without even waiting a day to grade the quizzes, the teacher knows which individual students need remediation with precise content.
  8. The teacher can fortify the rest of the week's lessons in specific areas to help fill the gaps in student learning.
This strategy is just one tool in the teacher's kit dominated by written, oral, and project-oriented lessons. However, in a limited application, it is quite efficient and useful in providing information to both the student and teacher. Here are three companies who provide a free version of this service.
  • Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops and tablets.

  • InfuseLearning provides a simple, powerful platform to streamline learning. Teachers can seamlessly engage every student on any device and make informed decisions at the point of instruction with real-time, student feedback.

  • GoSoapBox is a web-based clicker tool used by educators around the world to keep students engaged and gain real-time insight into student comprehension.

Of course, simple multiple-choice and short answer questions, even well-designed ones, have limited utility. A more powerful technique is Socratic questioning paired with a constructivist, experiential component. That's a post for another day. For now, take a look at the teacher below. He is novice at the approach, but at least he's trying new learning strategies.