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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

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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…