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  • Section 4: Assessment

    What is assessment?

     “Assessment that is consistent with principles of learning and understanding should: mirror good instruction; happen continuously, but not intrusively, as a part of instruction; and provide information (to teachers, students, and parents ) about the levels of understanding that students are reaching”

    (Source: Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, Page Keeley and Joyce Tugel, 2006)

    What is meant by total assessment of a student's learning?

    Multi-purposes of assessment often fall into one of three categories

    1. Diagnostic: usually precedes instruction and provides information to teachers about knowledge, attitudes, and skills of the student entering the course or before new instruction 
    2. Formative: usually carried out during instructional period to provide feedback to students and teachers on how well the material is being taught and learned 
    3. Summative: usually used at the end of an instructional unit to assess the final outcome of that unit in terms of student learning
      • Grades are usually based upon this type of assessment 
      • Generally based upon cognitive gains 
      • Grades shown on unit tests, progress reports, deficiency notices, and interim reports are examples of summative assessment reports

    What forms of assessment may be used which are not tests that are an adequate assessment for inquiry based science?

    1. Creative assessments: scrap books, home videos, cartoons 
    2. Journals: shows how students have progressed in their study, may need to focus journals via questioning 
    3. Oral interviews: provides insight to students understanding 
    4. Portfolios: examples of student work, accomplishments, performances, long-term, very individualized, students can evaluate themselves Specific criteria used to make evaluations and judgments of the students work. 
    5. Practical assessment: observations, projects, extended tasks, open-ended labs, apparatus set-up 
    6. Rubrics: a guide for scoring, assessing, and evaluating student work. Rubrics serve as a starting point for discussing and evaluating the learning process.

      Types of Rubrics:
      • Analytical
        • quantitative and address performances broken down into individual tasks or parts 
        • science instruction with consistent standard for each level 
        • students know the standards to achieve the next level
      • Holistic
        • qualitative
        • consider the entire performance as a whole
    7. Concept mapping:
      • means of organizing ideas; how students relate concepts they have learned 
      • used to assess prior knowledge 
      • assess knowledge gained 
      • compare maps drawn before with ones after the lesson.
    8. Self Evaluation:
      • how students perceive their individual and group performance 
      • students can reflect on how they might improve their performance 
    9.  Teacher Assessments:
      • that match exemplary science instruction 
      • that includes hands- on performances 
      • that probe the depth of student understanding 
      • that emphasize the process used to obtain an answer as well as the product or the final answer itself 
      • that include opportunities for reflection and self-evaluation 
      • that include performances such as presentations, journals, and displays 
      • that involve group work designed around too complex for students to undertake individually

      (Source: Llewellynn, Douglas, “Inquire Within”, Second Edition, Chapter 8, page 144)



    What are some general test guidelines?

    • Attend to creature comforts 
    • Always include space for students name/date/title of test/ pt. value of test 
    • Always include section titles/directions/pt. values 
    • Test items should be difficult enough for the poorly prepared student but easy enough for the students who is well prepared 
    • Design the test to be easily scored. Leave a space for all the answers on one margin. 
    • Rather than having students write on the test, have them place their responses on an answer sheet. 
    • Test questions must be clear and unambiguous – student should exactly understand what is being asked 
    • Encourage honesty by removing temptation to copy via spreading students out or by making two versions of the same test

    (Source: Assessment in the Science Classroom Llewellyn Chapter 8 and Victor Chapter 8)