Checklists for Highly Structured Tasks
In science and mathematics, some tasks require systematic procedures that do not yield multiple-entry points or exit points. In this case, a check list system can be appropriately used by an observer or a highly structured student-answer sheet in which each aspect of the procedure and result is described in detail. Faculty have often found the highly-structured format useful when working with large-enrollment classes. Highly -structured assessment tasks provide students with step-by-step instructions to follow. In contrast, less structured assessment tasks give students more opportunity to make judgments in determining the procedures needed to solve the problem.
Performance assessment can be administered individually, in pairs, or collaborative groups. If it is administered in pairs or groups, students should write in their own answer/response sheet. It is important to keep in mind that when students solve the problem in pairs or groups, the goal and the composition of the group will affect the student's individual performance. In this context, it should be clear exactly what the purpose of the assessment is (e.g., students' abilities to interact and collaborate with others).
Panel of Peers
Similar to the professional lives of college and university faculty, peer assessment can play an important role in improving student learning of both the assessed and the assessors. If criteria (standards) are clearly described to students with examples showing each level of competency, they are often able to judge the performance of peers effectively and reliably.
It is important to have predetermined criteria to evaluate the students' performances. Students should not be scored/graded against their peers, but against predefined criteria. Ideally, students should be provided with the criteria before the assessment. Accordingly, the grade book and student feedback reflect levels of competency, rather than comparative scores. It is always useful to try to find in students' performance patterns of both appropriate and inappropriate responses (e.g., most students did not control variable "X"). This helps the teacher focus on problems observed across many students.
Pros and Cons
- Performance assessments provide a way of observing the application of procedures.
- Performance assessments emphasize multiple correct answers and creative solutions.
- Performance assessments simulate the real-world tasks that scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and researchers encounter.
- Performance assessments allow faculty to measure overarching course goals of concept application
- Performance assessments address fewer learning objectives than other forms of assessment.
- Students who have been successful at memorizing initially find performance assessments intimidating.
- Development of clear criteria (standards) that indicate competency levels requires multiple iterations.
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