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  1. AssessmentWhat are the questions?What evidence will we accept? Diane Ebert-May Department of Plant Biology Michigan State University

  2. Anonymous(Change Magazine, 2001): • “I believe we would all agree that the absolute best teaching learning-assessment model is the one-on-one Socratic apprenticeship model with unlimited time with the student. But ever since Socrates took on two students rather than only one (to double his income), teachers have had to make compromises in teaching.”

  3. Larry Spence, Penn State • “Today’s graduates cannot meet the demands of workplace or without several more years of learning on the job. They cannot formulate and solve messy real-world problems, work well with others in high-stress team situations, write and speak forcefully and persuasively, or improve their own performance.”

  4. Question 1 • How important is it to use multiple kinds of data to assess student learning? Please respond on a scale if 0-100 in increments of 10:

  5. How important is it to use multiple forms of data to assess student learning? % Relative Importance n=127

  6. Question 2 • How often do you use data to make instructional decisions? Please respond on a scale of 0 - 100 in increments of 10:

  7. How often do you use data to make instructional decisions? % Frequency n=127

  8. True or False? • Assessing student learning in science parallels what scientists do as researchers.

  9. Parallel: ask questions • Description: • -What is happening? • Cause: • -Does ‘x’ (teaching strategy) affect ‘y’ (understanding)? • Process or mechanism: • -Why or how does ‘x’ cause ‘y’?

  10. Parallel: collect data • We collect data to find out what our students know. • Data helps us understand student thinking about concepts and content. • We use data to guide decisions about course/curriculum/innovative instruction

  11. Parallel: analyze data • Quantitative data - statistical analysis • Qualitative data • break into manageable units and define coding categories • search for patterns, quantify • interpret and synthesize • Valid and repeatable measures

  12. Parallel: peer review • Ideas and results are peer reviewed - formally and/or informally.

  13. What is assessment? • Data collection with the purpose of answering questions about… • students’ understanding • students’ attitudes • students’ skills • instructional design and implementation • curricular reform (at multiple grainsizes)

  14. Why do assessment? Improve student learning and development. Provides students and faculty substantive feedback about student understanding. Challenge to use disciplinary research strategies to assess learning.

  15. Research Methods

  16. Data collection approaches

  17. Assessment Gradient low Potential for Assessment of Learning high Multiple Choice … … Concept Maps … … Essay … … Interview high Ease of Assessment low Theoretical Framework • Ausubel 1968; meaningful learning • Novak 1998; visual representations • King and Kitchner 1994; reflective judgment • National Research Council 1999; theoretical frameworks for assessment

  18. Pre-Posttest Analysis Does active, inquiry-based instructional design influence students’ understanding of evolution and natural selection?

  19. Alternative Conceptions: Natural Selection ■ Changes in a population occur through a gradual change in individual members of a population. ■ New traits in species are developed in response to need. ■ All members of a population are genetically equivalent, variation and fitness are not considered. ■ Traits acquired during an individual’s lifetime will be inherited by offspring.

  20. Instructional Design Cooperative groups in class: Guppy Problem: sexual vs. natural selection -PBS film -Simulation -Analyze data -Written explanation

  21. Explain the changes that occurred in the tree and animal. Use your current understanding of evolution by natural selection. (AAAS 1999)

  22. Misconception: individuals evolve new traits n=80; p<.01 % of Students

  23. Misconception: evolution is driven by need n=80; p<.01 % of Students

  24. a. The traits of each individual guppy within a population gradually change.b. The proportions of guppies having different traits within a population change.c. Successful behaviors learned by certain guppies are passed on to offspring.d. Mutations occur to meet the needs of the guppies as the environment changes. In guppy populations, what are the primary changes that occur gradually over time? Anderson et al 2002

  25. Posttest: Student responses to mc n=171 * % of Students

  26. Animal/Tree Posttest: Gain in student understanding of fitness n=80; p<.01 % of Students

  27. Quantitative Data • Qualitative Data Design Experiment Ebert-May et al. 2003 Bioscience

  28. Question How do assessment questions help us determine students’ prior understanding and progressive thinking about the carbon cycle.

  29. Two class meetings on carbon cycle (160 minutes) Active, inquiry-based learning Cooperative groups Questions, group processing, large lecture sections, small discussion sections, multi-week laboratory investigation Homework problems including web-based modules Different faculty for each course One graduate/8-10 undergraduate TAs per course Instructional Design

  30. Two introductory courses for majors: Bio 1 - organismal/population biology (faculty A) Bio 2 - cell and molecular biology (faculty B) Three cohorts: Cohort 1 Bio 1 (n=141) Cohort 2 Bio1/Bio2 (n=63) Cohort 3 Other/Bio2 (n=40) Experimental Design

  31. Multiple iterations/versions of the carbon cycle problem Pretest, midterm, final with additional formative assessments during class Administered during instruction Semester 1 - pretest, midterm, final exam Semester 2 - final exam Assessment Design

  32. Hypothetical scenario: Grandma Johnson had very sentimental feelings toward Johnson Canyon, Utah, where she and her late husband had honeymooned long ago. Her feelings toward this spot were such that upon her death she requested to be buried under a creosote bush overlooking the canyon. Trace the path of a carbon atom from Grandma Johnson’s remains to where it could become part of a coyote. NOTE: the coyote will not dig up Grandma Johnson and consume any of her remains. Grandma Johnson Problem

  33. Used same scoring rubric (coding scheme) for all three problems - calibrated by adding additional criteria when necessary, rescoring: Examined two major concepts: Concept 1: Decomposers respire CO2 Concept 2: Plants uptake of CO2 Explanations categorized into two groups: Organisms (trophic levels) Processes (metabolic) Analysis of Responses

  34. Coding Scheme

  35. Cellular Respiration by Decomposers Correct Student Responses (%) Bio1/Bio2 Other/Bio2 Friedmans, p<0.01

  36. Pathway of Carbon in Photosynthesis Correct Student Responses (%) Bio1/Bio2 Other/Bio2 Friedmans, p<0.05

  37. IRD Team at MSU • Janet Batzli - Plant Biology [U of Wisconsin] • Doug Luckie - Physiology • Scott Harrison - Microbiology (grad student) • Tammy Long - Plant Biology • Jim Smith - Zoology • Deb Linton - Plant Biology (postdoc) • Heejun Lim - Chemistry Education • Duncan Sibley - Geology • *National Science Foundation

  38. What is the question? • What research and instructional designs? • What data collection methods? • How to analyze and interpret data? • Are findings valid and generalizable? • What are the next questions? • WHO? What evidence will we accept?