The role of information in systems for learning
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The Role of Information in Systems for Learning. Paul Nichols Charles DePascale The Center for Assessment. Problem. Recognition that improved student learning requires coordinated assessment, instruction, curricula and professional development

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The role of information in systems for learning

The Role of Information in Systems for Learning

Paul Nichols

Charles DePascale

The Center for Assessment


Problem
Problem

  • Recognition that improved student learning requires coordinated assessment, instruction, curricula and professional development

  • States and districts are being asked to conceptualize and implement assessments as a component of broad and coherent systems

  • For example, comprehensive assessment systems or systems for learning.

  • New burdens on district and state staff


Problem1
Problem

  • Think beyond a single test or set of tests to coordinated system of assessment, curriculum, pedagogy and professional development

  • Manage and held accountable for the award, development and implementation of multi-component systems

  • Cross department boundaries, engage multiple-vendors and involve many times the cost of a testing program


Status quo
Status Quo

  • State and district staff already have or can find the following training and tools to help with test development and implementation for individual tests

  • Currently no theoretical framework and no indices to help state, district and other educational leaders in planning, developing and evaluating systems for learning


Systems approach
Systems Approach

  • Move beyond hand waving to offer a framework and quantitative tools used by district and state staff to conceptualize and implement systems for learning (SFL)

  • Note the components that probably should be included in an SFL

  • Address SFL coherence by looking at communication of information from students to teachers

  • Present analytic framework allowing district and state staff to predict SFL coherence across different configurations


Defining systems for learning
Defining Systems for Learning

  • What is a system? From the field of systems thinking: A system is “a collection of parts which interact with each other to function as a whole”

  • An SFL is a set of components which interact with each other to function as a whole with the intention of improving student learning


Defining systems for learning1
Defining Systems for Learning

  • Paul Black and colleagues describe the components of an SFL:


Defining systems for learning2
Defining Systems for Learning

  • Curriculum consists of the knowledge and skills in subject areas that teachers teach and students learn.

  • Instruction refers to methods of teaching and the learning activities used to help students master the content and objectives specified by a curriculum.

  • Assessment is the means used to measure the outcomes of education and the achievement of students with regard to important competencies.

  • Theory of learning is the model of student cognition and learning in the domain


Defining systems for learning3
Defining Systems for Learning

  • Karin Hess reminds us that professional development is an important missing component:


Defining systems for learning4
Defining Systems for Learning

  • Coherence is provided by the theory of learning

  • The components must “talk to each other” in a common language

  • The language of communication is the learning theory


Measuring sfl coherence
Measuring SFL Coherence

  • An SFL may be conceptualized as a communication system

  • Think of a radio or your iPad receiving a transmission

  • A generic communication system


Measuring sfl coherence1
Measuring SFL Coherence

  • Signal is generated by an information source

  • Transmitter codes the signal and passes the coded signal to the receiver

  • Receiver decodes the signal and passes the reconstructed signal to the destination

  • Noise is likely to degrade the information in the signal as it is passed from component to component

  • Information is contaminated by noise so that information received is different from an error-free message


Measuring sfl coherence2
Measuring SFL Coherence

  • Teacher attempting to understand the information relevant to the construct in student performance


Measuring sfl coherence3
Measuring SFL Coherence

  • From Measurement Theory to Information Theory

  • Information is defined as the amount of uncertainty reduced

    • Student whose answer is right or wrong vs student whose answer reveals stage of learning progression

  • Bit is measure of amount of information in terms of choice or uncertainty

  • Learning outcome between two equally probable alternatives is learning one bit of information


Measuring sfl coherence4
Measuring SFL Coherence

  • Coherence can be defined as the degree to which different components help communication

  • H(x|y), equivocation, is uncertainty that x was transmitted when y is received

  • H(x|y) =

  • Mapping from x to y reduces noise or error the value approaches 0

  • Lower values = higher coherence


Measuring sfl coherence5
Measuring SFL Coherence

  • Components hinder/facilitate communication so decrease/increase coherence

    • Performance-based assessment where the teacher is looking for formative information

    • Scaffolding reading or constructed response on the circulatory system

    • Learning progression with 5 levels

    • Focus on professional development & instruction


Measuring sfl coherence6
Measuring SFL Coherence

  • Simulation 1: Professional development addresses basic statistics, reliability, validity

  • Fails to address learning progressions

  • Teachers’ scoring shows no relationship to students’ learning progression stage

  • Students receive instruction unrelated to prior understanding

  • Coherence low, H(x|y) = 2.32


Measuring sfl coherence7
Measuring SFL Coherence

  • Simulation 2: Professional development addresses the concept of learning progressions and describes stages in the learning progression

  • Teachers’ scoring shows large “halo effect” and noise

  • Students with impoverished understanding fail to receive instruction

  • Coherence moderate, H(x|y) = 1.49


Measuring sfl coherence8
Measuring SFL Coherence

  • Simulation 3: Professional development addresses concept of learning progressions, describes stages and in the learning progression, calibrates scoring with exemplars

  • Teachers’ scoring shows some “halo effect” and impact of noise

  • Most students receive appropriate instruction

  • H(x|y) = 0.83


Conclusion
Conclusion

  • State and district staff are asked to conceptualize and implement SFLs

  • State and district staff need a theoretical framework and quantitative indices to help plan and evaluate SFLs

  • Measurement theory focuses on individual tests or groups of tests

  • Instructional theory focuses on instructional techniques and activities

  • The framework and index of system coherence are a start…


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