Reflections on Assignment 2

What lessons did I learn from Assignment 2?
How would I like to have a similar experience in the future?

  • Will I want to do this again?
  • Shall I do something like it in a class that I (shall) teach?

I learned much from Assignment 2. First, I learned how hard it is to do groupwork online, especially since we were limited to communicating via the forum only. Each post had to be well thought out and in mostly English. It was difficult to compose posts in such a way that would be unambiguous to the reader. Eventually though, I got the hang of it.

The next challenge was understanding exactly what we were supposed to do. I had a feeling Teacher Malou made the assignment open-ended on purpose, and so I tried to figure things out without asking too many questions even as I found the instructions confusing. Fortunately, Eliza figured things out earlier, and so she guided our group with what we needed to do. I think though that next time I would ask more questions about things I found unclear.

I also felt bad about not meeting the deadlines I proposed for the group. My computer malfunctioned and I was not able to contribute early in the assignment. I did my best to be active and be a good groupmate to make up for coming in late. Eliza and Jezrel were ready to submit the day I showed up at the forum. I’m glad I was not discouraged from posting suggestions, a table of specs and rubrics even if they had already made these. In the end, we revised what they originally made and I think I was able to make a substantial contribution. I am also glad all of us were able to contribute to the assessment tool. I’m blessed to have such active groupmates.

I was really happy with using rubrics to grade groupmates. I think I will definitely use rubrics for that purpose in my class next semester. Normally I ask the students to grade their groupmates, but their criteria is completely up to their own personal discretions. Having the rubrics shown to the class before groupwork begins would definitely communicate to the students how they are expected to contribute. Students will also not be shy about grading their groupmates using objective criteria. I’m thinking of creating one rubric for the entire class during a class activity so they can have inputs as well.

I would appreciate a similar experience in the future. Assignment 2 was definitely more manageable with groupmates. However, I recognize that some students were not as lucky with their groupmates. I guess in that case it could possibly be more difficult to accomplish the task as a group rather than individually.

I would consider doing a similar activity for my class. I once had a teacher whose exam was something like create 1 easy question, 1 medium question and 1 difficult question, and then answer all the questions. This of course puts the burden of making the exam on the students. However, I am not sure how I would grade that. But then, I guess I can always make a rubric for that and show the students how they will be graded beforehand.

Reflection on Assessment Construction, Reporting and Feedback

Based on your personal experience, are scores able to effectively inform both teachers and students about learning progress in class?  Do teachers and students share common interpretations of scores? Or has it been a more common case that scores are mere numbers that are processed to fill in report cards?

I think it’s true that scores are generally mere numbers that are processed to fill in report cards. For many students and their parents, grades matter a lot. This is especially true for my students, who are mostly pre-med. It frustrates us biology teachers because sometimes students seem to care more about grades than learning. I understand where they are coming from because they need high grades to go to med school. But I also hope they realize that high grades achieved by strategies are empty compared to high grades achieved by actual learning.

But students are not the only ones responsible for this mindset. Teachers do not always give proper feedback to students, and so students rely on scores. Formative assessments and feedback are essential in helping students take charge of their learning. Teachers must also tell students exactly what they are looking for so students can work to achieve those learning objectives.

I think there may at times be discrepancies with how teachers and students interpret scores. Sometimes there is no discrepancy. Both the student and the teacher interpret the score as representative of how much the student has learned. Sometimes though, the student may interpret a score as how much he “got away” with not studying for something if he got a high score with minimal effort. A teacher may also interpret the score as indicative of his commendable teaching ability if all of the students get high scores. There are many ways of interpreting scores. The best use of scores, however, is to improve one’s self. The student can use the score as a measure of how well he studied for a test, and improve on it next time. The teacher, on the other hand, can use the scores of students to make his lessons better.

Reflections on Types of Classroom Assessments

Personal Preferences

  • Recall the different approaches that you, as a student, used to prepare for your tests, exams or other assessment tasks.  What factors influenced how you chose to prepare for an upcoming assessment?
  • As a student, what kind of assessment did you prefer to take?  What types of assessment were/are threatening for you?  Why?
  • As a teacher (if you are), what kinds of assessment do you prefer to give?  Why?
  • What kinds of test do you perceive to be threatening to your students?  What are your thoughts now about this situation? 

As a student, I would prepare for assessment tasks basically by studying my notes. Sometimes I would read the textbook if I wanted to clarify something in my notes. If I could not find the answer in my textbook, I would ask my teacher. When I reached college, teachers were not as approachable. Thus, I would ask my classmates, and we would have study groups. We would share notes, explain concepts to one another, and eat snacks. The factors that influenced how I would prepare for an assessment were my class standing, the perceived difficulty of the exam, and the relative weight of the grade. I also later learned to focus on those concepts that I found difficult. In the past, I would study the entire coverage. But my friend had a point when she told me I didn’t have to review what I already knew I had mastered. I could spend my time more wisely by only studying what I was not confident with yet.

I preferred essay test questions. I am a big picture type of person, and I always found it hard to remember details. But I can always explain what is happening even if I don’t know the name of the person who said it, or what a particular protein is called. The types of assessment that were threatening to me were fill in the blanks and enumeration. I also liked groupwork and special projects because they allowed us to be creative.

As a teacher,  I usually give multiple choice, true or false, short answer and essay questions for summative assessments.  I think it is a good mix, and different cognitive levels can be assessed. I also like giving formative assessments via quizzes. I give quizzes every meeting so the students can gauge themselves before the long exams. I also enjoy having the students do an investigative project in groups, wherein the students follow the scientific method. They ask questions, formulate hypotheses, design experiments and interpret the results. This takes weeks to do, and the students learn much from it. It also integrates the lessons learned earlier in the class. I think this is a good alternative assessment.

Based on feedback from my students, the traditional summative assessments are most threatening. I think this is because there is so much at stake since it makes up a big part of their grades. I do think these summative assessments are necessary to demonstrate what the student has learned. However, I am considering the use of alternative assessments. I have not figured out exactly how to use alternative summative assessments in my lecture classes, but I am thinking about it. I just have to be creative to figure something out. Of course, this may also mean changing the format of my lecture.

 

Influential Insights

What new insights emerged from this lesson?  In what ways do I find the lessons in this module personally important?  How have new ideas from this module influenced my personal views about how to do assessment?

I did not realize there were so many ways of doing assessment. This module gave me so much to think about. The biggest insight I got from this module is that I have so many options in assessing my students! I was not familiar with more than half of the assessments tackled in this module. I also did not realize that I was already assessing students when I observe how they do field work, and that they had already been assessed when I give feedback on how they hold a particular piece of equipment. I am taking this module to heart. I am trying out the different assessments in my head to see what might work and how I can incorporate them into my lessons. Of course, I know I probably won’t be able to try them all, and that some will probably not be as applicable for my class. I will just take them one at a time, and keep those that work.

Exit Cards

In the open forum for Module 4, my classmate Mariebelle Balazuela posted about exit cards and how she adapted them to her class. She also gave the following resource:

http://www.readingrockets.org/strategies/exit_slips

I think the idea of having exit cards after every discussion is great. It is a variation on the minute paper, and I would really like to try having these cards in my classes next semester. This type of feedback from the students will definitely allow me to gauge whether or not they are achieving the lessons’ learning objectives.

 

 

Reflections on Quiz 1

  • Unlimited attempts allowed.
  • Review button reveals correct answers.

Were these features intentional or accidental? Did I see these as opportunities for cheating?  How did I respond psychologically?

How will intentionally incorporating these features in the quiz setup productively serve student interest, if at all?  Can the gains, if any, outweigh the disadvantages?

Is Quiz 1 a lesson in itself?  (If it is, what did I learn?)

 

I am pretty sure the features of the quiz having unlimited attempts and having the review button reveal the correct answers were intentional. Our teacher definitely had a purpose for those two features. I am not sure what the purpose is, but I believe the features were there for our use.

When I first saw that there were unlimited attempts, I liked the idea because that meant I could take another chance if I didn’t do very well. I took the quiz and got a 7.5/15. I saw that  I could review the answers, and so I did. I studied some more and then took the quiz again. To my surprise, all the questions were the same, just jumbled up. I was surprised because I had taken an online course before, and we had 2 attempts at a quiz. For the second attempt, the quiz was remarkably different. I got confused while answering, and though I changed a few of my answers,  I ended up getting 7.5/15 again.

At this point, I wondered if the third attempt would still yield the same quiz, or if it was a trick and the third one would be different. Nevertheless, I reviewed all the answers, studied them, and took my third attempt. This time, I got 100% because it was still the same quiz. The fulfillment is a little bit empty because I was given the answers beforehand. I wondered what the reason could be for this.

Then I remembered the purposes of assessment. Could this be assessment AS learning? I think we were given unlimited attempts and the opportunity to review the answers for this purpose, and to test our perseverance. We were allowed to keep trying until we got all the answers right. As Dr. Lorna Earl mentioned in “Rethinking Classroom Assessment with Purpose in Mind”, in assessment AS learning, students take charge of their learning. This is exactly what happened with Quiz 1. We were given the assessment, and then based on how we did, we went back to the materials and studied again. Because the correct answers were given, we were able to correct the misconceptions we had about the lessons. We were able to ensure that we understood the material in the way our teacher wanted us to understand it (based on the correct answers to the quiz).

The problem is when students do not see the opportunity for learning in Quiz 1. If students reviewed the answers and just memorized them to get a perfect score, then the quiz was not able to achieve its assessment AS learning objective (assuming that really is the objective). But I think that the advantage of the quiz outweighs the disadvantage.

Our teacher put up a note entitled “The Mystery of Quiz 1”. Now that I have written my reflection, I am excited to see what the real mystery is regarding this quiz!