No assignment is ever perfect. What follows is a very good assignment that has many strengths and some weaknesses. As you read it try to identify five strengths and three areas for improvement.
We would like to thank Laura Aston for permission to use her assignment as part of these web resources.
NB This essay was written in 2010 and the references used at that time were relevant and up to date. If possible do not use references that are older than 5 years, except for seminal works.
Investigate a typical assessment strategy used in your own curriculum area. Use the strategy with a small group of learners and reflect on the experience. Draw on some of the key concepts from the appropriate literature to inform your reflection (2000 words) by Laura Aston
Coles (2004, 41) states that, “teaching, learning and assessment are the three pillars of the teaching triangle and assessment permeates all of them”. It would appear that assessment (initial, formative, summative or diagnostic) is integral to the learning process; ‘the engine that drives learning’ (John Cowan) (Race 2001, 86). It is a “measure of how effectively the students have learned, usually measured against stated learning outcomes” (Reece and Walker 2007, 443). The main use of assessment for teachers is the ongoing or ‘formative assessment’. According to Reece and Walker (2007, 323) formative assessment “takes place during the course and is useful in telling the student how the learning is proceeding as well as telling the teacher about the success of the teaching”. Thus, I used formative assessment to form judgements on whether, and to what extent, learning has been successful; and to pinpoint difficulties so that remedial action can be taken. Upon reflection I will be able to improve or amend methods of instruction. I will do this using Gibbs’ reflective cycle (1988) (see figure 1) and/or Stephen Brookfield’s four lenses to support my reflection of the experience of using the assessment tool.
The cycle encourages systematic thinking of the phases of an experience/activity. Coles (2004, 167) concludes that it ‘emphasises the need to continue to reflect on actions, in order to develop profess
However, “…description is merely the recall and is the lowest level of learning in the cognitive domain. The remaining five steps cause us to think more deeply about the issues and can lead to valuable insights” (Reece and Walker 2007, 422).
Alternatively, Brookfield (1995) suggests four ‘critical lenses’ that teachers could use for reflection. These are:
- Their autobiographies as teachers and learners,
- Through their students’ eyes,
- Their colleagues’ perceptions,
- The theoretical literature.
(Coles 2004, 165)
These lenses can be used to develop a framework for thinking about how the students experienced learning, as well as what impact the assessment tool has had on their experience.
The first lens considers our experiences as teachers and learners. ‘This process unveils the assumptions and reasoning that shape and influence our teaching’ (Teaching Concern 1997). These assumptions may then be verified through the remaining three lenses. As a college student I had studied modules of sport psychology on the BTEC national diploma course and as an undergraduate on the Bsc Sport and Exercise Science degree course. Thus I had gone into the lesson with a good understanding of sport leadership. Further, I have completed coaching badges in hockey and athletics thus I was able to relate to the leadership styles from my own experiences. The learners’ however, had mixed experiences. All learners’ attend the sports coaching module, few had coaching badges and others had heard of the various types of leadership styles.
The second lens is viewed through the eyes of our learners, those who see and experience us as professional teachers and adults. ‘Assessment of student perceptions reveals to what extent our assumptions about teaching or classroom management correspond with those of our students’ (Teaching Concerns 1997). I encouraged the learners’ to give feedback on their progress and performance. I found a good way was to ask them to reflect on their experiences as the learner and provide thoughts on the assessment tool.
When deciding upon the type of formative assessment, I took into account the various types including; question and answer (Q&A), supply type questions, selection type questions, projects, assignments, essays and practical tests. However, I also used Q&A and a worksheet (the primary assessment tool).
Petty (2009, 202) suggests, ‘for elements of learning, questioning can be used to provide students with an explanation, to let them use the knowledge you are teaching, and of course to check and correct and indeed to evaluate their learning’. Thus, I used Q&A for the recall of information and to promote thinking and understanding (see appendix A). This type of informal assessment also provided a means of ascertaining the existing level of learning/entry behaviour and was used to asses the learning that had taken place during and/or at the end of the lesson.
However, according to Reece and Walker (2007, 42), short answer/completion assessment is useful ‘when the learning outcome is to ‘recall’ rather than to recognise information, for simple computational problems or when a selection type is too obvious’. Thus, before the lesson ended, I handed out a worksheet on leadership to provide a student activity (see appendix B). The worksheet was aimed at testing their understanding of the material covered within the lesson (i.e. leadership styles and theories). The worksheet was a type of ‘assignment sheet,’ consisting of a number of questions to be answered (Reece and Walker 2007, 174). The worksheet was clear, logical, straightforward, concise and written at a vocabulary level the learners’ would understand. The learners’ were told that they could refer to class notes to help them to answer the questions. When the learners’ were completing the worksheet I walked round to check their understanding, allowing for ‘one-on-one’ tuition. This facilitated with individual attention, an opportunity to observe individual problems and a chance for the learners to question me about their concerns, which Petty (2009) suggests is good practice.
By using Q&A and worksheets, I was able to provide feedback to the learners’. Feedback is ‘one of the five principal factors underpinning successful learning’ (Race 2005, 08). The feedback was provided immediately upon completion of the worksheet. Immediate feedback being most effective, as learners’ can still remember exactly what they were thinking as they address each task (Race 2001, 85). The feedback concentrated upon ways in which improvements might be made as opposed to giving a mark for the work learnt in the class. Minton (2005, 111) states that ‘feedback enables learning to take place’, thus I felt that numerical/letter grades alone would not have provided useful information for evaluation or appraisal process. Grades can also demotivate low attainers and often fail to challenge high attainers. Feedback is meant to accelerate progress towards achieving goals in skills and knowledge, together with behavioural and attitudinal changes. It should identify goals that still have to be addressed and achieved, so that learners and teachers can decide what to do now, what still has to be learned, and what still has to change.
Thus, I went through the answers with the learners, allowing for correction and additional support. I took the opportunity to show, correct and congratulate the learners, praising the parts that were answered well to ensure the learners were kept motivated. The aspects that were done less well were highlighted, as opposed to being condemned, and suggestions were provided as to how they may have corrected the aspects. Petty (2009, 67), suggests to ‘mix praise with criticism’, a similar approach to the feedback sandwich (good news, bad news, good news). Thus I used the feedback sandwich to ensure that the learners’ were able to take the criticism positively. For example;
“You all seemed to be able to complete the worksheet well. Be careful, the autocratic style takes on a command approach, whereas the democratic style takes on a cooperative approach. All answers are complete and correct, well done!”
I had mixed praise and criticism, and gave criticism in a forward-looking and positive manner rather than in a backward-looking and negative one. For example: ‘Next time, try to relate the leadership styles to both a sport and real life situation’, not ‘You didn’t relate the leadership styles to enough examples’.
Further, before designing and implementing the assessment instrument, I had considered the following:
Validity – ‘How well a test measures what it is supposed to measure?’
(Reece and Walker 2006, 452)
The assessment tool assessed a sample of abilities that are required in the curriculum. The tool was based on the objectives in the curriculum. For example, as part of their assessment the learners’ are required to understand the leadership styles (autocratic, democratic and Laissez-faire), Fielders Contingency model, the Trait and Great Man theory. The assessment tool was designed to test the aims and objectives stated at the beginning of the lesson. It consisted of short answer questions regarding the topics discussed within the class. In effect, it integrated clearly with the learning process.
Reliability – ‘for research to be reliable it must demonstrate that if it were to be carried out on a similar group of respondents in a similar context, then similar results would be found’ (Cohen, Manioin and Morrison 2000, 117).
This means that if a test and a re-test were undertaken within an appropriate time span, then similar results would be obtained. However, according to Cohen et al (2000, 117),
‘…The researcher has to decide what an appropriate length of time is; too short and respondents may remember what they said or what they did in the first test situation, too long a time and there may be extraneous effects operating to distort the date (for example, maturation in students, outside influences on the students).’
As well as valid and reliable, the assessment tool had to be authentic, current and reliable. These make up the components of VACSAR (valid, authentic, current, sufficient and reliable), which correspond to the functionality of the tool i.e. does the assessment methodology work effectively? (Petty 2009, 502). Was it cost effective?
The assessment tool did not take long to construct because the questions were based upon content covered within the lesson. For that reason I was able to pull out key points which reflected content that needed to be covered in their assignment.
Authentic – since the worksheet required the learners to describe and explain the various theories I did not expect the learners’ to complete the task in five minutes. I gave 15 minutes to complete the worksheet, with time at the end to go over the answers. It was clear that some students worked at different speeds and struggled to come up with examples. For that reason, in the future I will adapt the assessment tool (see appendix c). I feel that perhaps if I had put in some sentences which required filling in the blanks this might have been easier. I then could have concentrated of structured answers for those learners’ who worked faster and understood it more fully. I could have also changed the terminology from ‘explain’ to ‘describe’ or from ‘describe’ to ‘identify’ referring to Blooms Taxonomy of verbs.
Current – the questions were up-to-date with current sporting examples. The questions were based upon the specification for the learners’ sports psychology module.
Sufficient – each question required three examples; one from the class activity, one from a real life situation and one from a high profile team. This enabled me to make judgements on their ability to apply the theories to different situations. Some learners’ were able to provide all three examples, whereas others needed encouragement. Through feedback, it was clear that some learners’ felt it was too much and preferred sporting examples only.
When deciding upon the type of assessment tool, I also considered the significance of preferences that students have with teaching strategies. The underpinning concepts are:
Students are intrinsically different and have different preferred learning styles.
Teaching is a purposeful activity, which aims to promote learning and cause learning to take place. (Reece and Walker 2007, 141)
The ‘visual, auditory and kinaesthetic’ (VAK) system suggests three teaching approaches. The visual approach includes diagrams called ‘graphic organisers.’ When using Q&A I used pictures on the PowerPoint presentation to support my ideas. From evaluation, it is clear that the learners’ would have liked some visuals to support theory questions on the assessment tool.
Second is the auditory approach, with teacher explanations. I had used this when discussing theories and providing examples to the learners. Third is the kinaesthetic approach. Students encounter ideas through action. Unfortunately the assessment tool did not encourage kinaesthetic learning, although many of the individuals would have experienced this in their practical coaching class. In the future, to enhance the assessment tool, I could encourage kinaesthetic learning through role-play or simulated exercise.
Role-play is when; ‘student acts a part or a role in events before a situation, during the situation and after the situation,’ (Reece and Walker 2007, 127). This would be beneficial in helping the students feel the influences and pressures of the different types of leadership styles. For this to be effective I could have laminated pre-planned role cards for participants or set up the classroom to enhance realism. The learners would be asked to act out certain leadership styles. They could then be assessed on how well they associated each leadership style to certain situations.
In general, by implementing the assessment tool and through receiving feedback from my peers and learners, I would amend or change aspects of the assessment tool. It became apparent that learners’ do learn differently and require various aids to encourage and promote learning. The association of existing knowledge and new material seems to be most effective with the recall of information. Thus in the future I would try and make the tool more specific to the individual needs of the learner experiences and/or encourage role-play to stimulate effective learning and enhance realism.
Coles, A., (2004). Teaching in Post-compulsory Education; Policy, Practice and Values. 1st ed. London: David Fulton. OxfordBrookesUniversity(2009)AboutGibbsReflectivecyclehttp://www.brookes.ac.uk/services/upgrade/a-z/reflective_gibbs.htmlAcessed 27 October 2009
Petty, G., (2009). Teaching Today: A Practical Guide. 4th ed. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Ltd.
Race, P. (2001) The Lecturer’s toolkit. A practical guide to Learning, Teaching & Assessment. 2nd ed. Abingdon:Kogan Press Ltd.
Race, P. (2005) Making Learning Happen. A Guide for Post Compulsory Education. 1st ed. London:SAGE Publications Ltd.
Reece, I. & Walker, S., (2007). Teaching, training & learning. A practical guide. 6th ed revised. Tyne and Wear: Business Education Publishers Ltd.
University of Virginia. Newsletter. (1997) Teaching Concerns. [online] Virginia, University of Virginia. Available from: http://trc.virginia.edu/Publications/Teaching_Concerns/Fall_1997/TC_Fall_1997_Lasser.pdf [Accessed 25th October 2009]
Structure of assignment based on a critical review of literature 4,000
Abstract (150 words)
Introduction (300 words)
- Focal paragraph/s
Research questions – what precisely do you want to find out? Three questions for 4,000 words plus evidence of intended presentation.
Why is the project worth doing? e.g. professional issue, personal interest, issue at work.
Outline the structure of the rest of the report e.g. ‘The remainder of the project is structured as follows. In the Literature Review I describe and critically evaluate the following areas of literature…’
Methodology (500–750 words)
Describe how you undertook your literature search and selected the books and articles that you have used in your review. You will also need to consider issues connected with qualitative/quantitative research, surveys, plagiarism, bias and ethics.
Literature Review (1,500 words)
Introduce the chapter by outlining the content of the section.
Describe and critically evaluate the literature that you have selected. The easiest way to evaluate literature is to compare and contrast it with the work of other authors.
It is better to use 6 references really well than use 12 references poorly.
Reference all material correctly. Use the library reference guide or that which is contained in your student handbook.
Provide a conclusion which pulls together the various issues you have discussed.
Critical Reflection on Literature (1,000 words)
Identify between 3 and 5 new theories, ideas, methods, processes or approaches to teaching and learning that you have discovered as a result of undertaking your critical literature review. Consider to what extent you might be able to apply these in your professional practice and identify any barriers to their use.
Conclusion (300 words)
Discuss the three most important things that you have learnt from undertaking your research.
Identify any weaknesses in what you have done. How would you change your research if you were to do it again?
Identify any areas for further research.
See Coles, A. and McGrath, J. (2013), Your Education Research Project Companion (2nd edn). Oxford: Routledge.
What is the difference between a mentor, a critical friend and a peer observer?
Here is an example of where it is best to go back and look at some early, and extremely good definitions, of key terms.
Mentoring is ‘the deliberate pairing of a more skilled or experienced person with a lesser skilled or experienced person, with the agreed goal of having the lesser skilled person grow and develop.’
Murray, M. (2001), Beyond the Myths and Magic of Mentoring: How to Facilitate an Effective Mentoring Process. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
A critical friend is ‘a trusted person who asks provocative questions, provides data to be examined through another lens, and offers critiques of a person’s work as a friend. A critical friend takes the time to fully understand the context of the work presented and the outcomes that the person or group is working toward. The friend is an advocate of that work.’
Costa, A. and Callick, B. (1993), ‘Through the lens of a critical friend’, Educational Leadership, 51(2), pp. 49–51.
Peer observation ‘involves two people of equal rank watching each other teach … peer appraisal is a good way of focusing on the importance to every teacher of mutually supportive critical reflection and a commitment to positive action.’
Wragg, E.C. (1994), An Introduction to Classroom Observation. London: Routledge Falmer.
A link to ‘Introducing Restorative Justice into your School’ published by West Sussex County Council on the West Sussex grid for learning:
Link to Bennett, T. (2009), ‘Behaviour – Class Act – Classroom Control’, TES Connecthttp://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6007978
Web resources last accessed 13/7/15
Dix, P. (2010), The Essential Guide to Taking Care of Behaviour. Harlow: Pearson.
Ellis, S. and Tod, J. (2009), Behaviour for Learning: Proactive Approaches to Behaviour Management.Abingdon: Routledge.
Rogers, B. (2015), Classroom Behaviour: A Practical Guide to Effective Behaviour Management and Colleague Support (4th edn.) London: SAGE.
Ground Rules and the Classroom Charter Based Upon Grange School Buckinghamshire
An extract from the Behaviour Policy of The Grange School, Buckinghamshire available at www.grange.bucks.sch.uk/pdf/behaviour_policy.pdf.
THE GRANGE SCHOOL
The Grange School believes that it is important to create an environment in which staff can teach and pupils can learn. It is based on the clear values of respect, fairness and inclusion.
The school values good behaviour and seeks to create systems which will minimise and appropriately address all forms of unacceptable behaviour.
- To improve the way in which the school community works together to solve problems and to strengthen the partnership between home and school.
- To encourage a caring and orderly environment.
- To encourage a sense of responsibility and self-discipline in every pupil.
Good behaviour is essential so that the orderly environment for teaching and learning can exist.
All students have the following basic rights:
- To be taught and learn without distraction or disruption.
- To respect and fair treatment (this includes their property as well as themselves).
- To feel safe at school.
At The Grange School staff and students have the right to:
- Be treated with dignity and respect.
- Be listened to.
- Be able to explain their feelings.
- Be treated politely.
- Receive recognition for their achievements.
In having such rights it is important that all members of the school community are responsible in:
- Being kind, caring, sharing, not hurting another by what they do or what they say.
- Being polite.
- Protecting the most vulnerable.
- Respecting other students.
- Respecting adults.
- Earning trust.
- Praising each other.
- Taking responsibility for their own actions and belongings.
In fulfilling our rights and responsibilities there are expectations made of the School, Parents and Pupils.
EXPECTATIONS OF THE SCHOOL ARE TO:
- Respect each pupil as an individual.
- Provide a safe school environment.
- Provide a full, balanced and appropriate curriculum.
- Educate each pupil to fulfil his/her potential. Set regular and relevant homework and ensure that it is marked.
- Provide information about Pupil progress and offer regular meetings with parents.
- Ensure that pupils are prepared and entered for appropriate examinations, provided they have satisfactorily completed the course.
EXPECTATIONS OF PARENTS ARE TO:
- Encourage a positive attitude to school and a high standard of behaviour, in accordance with school policy.
- Ensure your son/daughter attends school regularly and punctually, with appropriate uniform and equipment.
- Have due regard for the Home-School Agreement.
- Ensure that the school is notified of any absence by telephone and that this is confirmed in writing when the pupil returns.
- To monitor progress, attitude and behaviour in conjunction with the school.
- To inform the school about any issues or concerns that might affect performance at school.
EXPECTATIONS OF PUPILS ARE TO:
- Work to their full potential.
- Be polite and co-operative at all times.
- Complete and submit homework and other assignments on time.
- Dress in the appropriate uniform.
- Attend school regularly and punctually.
- Treat all facilities and equipment carefully and with respect.
- Move about the school in an orderly and quiet manner.
- Treat all members of the school community with respect.
- Behave in accordance with the school behaviour policy.
Drugs, weapons, alcohol and smoking are strictly forbidden in school.
EXPECTATIONS IN THE CLASSROOM
The Grange School has six Classroom Ground Rules which are explained and understood by all students:
- Do your work as well as you can.
- Allow others to do their work.
- Follow teachers' instructions.
- Treat other people with respect.
- Bring correct equipment.
- Be on time.
The Classroom Ground Rules concerning the expected behaviour for all pupils in lessons are posted clearly in all classrooms. They are also discussed with pupils in lessons and tutor time.
All Web resources last accessed 16/12/10.
A link to ‘Student-centred learning: What does it mean for students and lecturers?’ by Geraldine O’Neill and Tim McMahon:
A link to Geoff Petty’s website on active learning: http://www.geoffpetty.com/activelearning.html
Web resources were last accessed on 13/07/15
Keeling, D. and Gilbert, I. (2009), Rocket Up Your Class!: 101 High Impact Activities to Start, Break and End Lessons.Carmarthen: Crown House Publishing.
Muijs, D. and Reynolds, D. (2010), Effective Teaching: Evidence and Practice. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Nash, R. (2008), The Active Classroom: Practical Strategies for Involving Students in the Learning Process. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Wallace, I. and Kirkman, L. (2007), Pimp Your Lesson!: Prepare, Innovate, Motivate and Perfect. London: Continuum.
Resources on classroom organisation and management
Bains, E., Blatchford, P., Kutnick, P., Chown, A., Ota, C. and Berdondini, L. (2008), Promoting Effective Group Work in the Classroom: A Handbook for Teachers and Practitioners. Oxford: Routledge.
Casswell, S. (2015), Keeping Bums in Seats: The NQT's Guide to Behaviour Management. Just Write Books [Kindle Edition].
Moyles, J.R. (1992), Organising for Learning in the Primary Classroom. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Murdoch, K. (2008), Personalised Learning in the Primary Classroom: Learner-centered Strategic Teaching. Abingdon: David Fulton Books.
Reid, G (2007), Motivating Learners in the Classroom: Ideas and Strategies. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Resources on assessment and feedback
Link to Geoff Petty's website on feedback: http://www.geoffpetty.com/feedback.html (Last accessed 13/07/15)
Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B. and Wiliam, D. (2003), Assessment for Learning: Putting It into Practice. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Clarke, S. (2008), Active Learning Through Formative Assessment. London: Hodder Education.
Fautley, M. and Savage, J. (2008), Assessment for Learning and Teaching in Secondary Schools. Exeter: Learning Matters.
Pezet M. (2010), Feedback Pocketbook. Alresford: Management Pocketbooks.
Spendlove, D. (2011), Putting Assessment for Learning into Practice [Ideas in Action].London:Continuum.
This means that new teachers must develop the ability to “understand in a pedagogically reflective way; they must not only know their own way around a discipline, but must know the ‘conceptual barriers’ likely to hinder others” (McDonald and Naso, 1986:8). These conceptual barriers differ from discipline to discipline.
An emphasis on interactions between disciplinary knowledge and pedagogical knowledge directly contradicts common misconceptions about what teachers need to know in order to design effective learning environments for their students. The misconceptions are that teaching consists only of a set of general methods, that a good teacher can teach any subject, or that content knowledge alone is sufficient.
Some teachers are able to teach in ways that involve a variety of disciplines. However, their ability to do so requires more than a set of general teaching skills. Consider the case of Barb Johnson, who has been a sixth-grade teacher for 12 years at Monroe Middle School. By conventional standards Monroe is a good school. Standardized test scores are about average, class size is small, the building facilities are well maintained, the administrator is a strong instructional leader, and there is little faculty and staff turnover. However, every year parents sending their fifth-grade students from the local elementary schools to Monroe jockey to get their children assigned to Barb Johnson’s classes. What happens in her classroom that gives it the reputation of being the best of the best?
During the first week of school Barb Johnson asks her sixth graders two questions: “What questions do you have about yourself?” and “What questions do you have about the world?” The students begin enumerating their questions, “Can they be about silly, little things?” asks one student. “If they’re your questions that you really want answered, they’re neither silly nor little,” replies the teacher. After the students list their individual questions, Barb organizes the students into small groups where they share lists and search for questions they have in common. After much discussion each group comes up with a priority list of questions, rank-ordering the questions about themselves and those about the world.
Back together in a whole group session, Barb Johnson solicits the groups’ priorities and works toward consensus for the class’s combined lists of questions. These questions become the basis for guiding the curriculum in Barb’s class. One question, “Will I live to be 100 years old?” spawned educational investigations into genetics, family and oral history, actuarial science, statistics and probability, heart disease, cancer, and hypertension. The students had the opportunity to seek out information from family members, friends, experts in various fields, on-line computer services, and books, as well as from the teacher. She describes what they had to do as becoming part of a “learning community.” According to Barb Johnson, “We decide what are the most compelling intellectual issues, devise ways to investigate those issues