In my CEP 813 class (Electronic Assessment), we have been delving into assessments, why we assess, how we assess, what assessments should look like, and how to spot a good one. As of this moment, we are in the infancy stages of all of those. Most recently, we were tasked with forming a rubric to assess our assessments.
Today, I am going to use that rubric to assess a group assignment that I have given the students varying examples of over the years. It has proven popular with them, which isn’t a criterion on the rubric (maybe it should be?).
Here is what the students are given:
There at one point was a rubric for this assignment which has apparently bit the dust in my transfer of positions. Sadly, it was primarily a check list, so you aren’t missing much.
As I mentioned this is a group assignment. The purpose of the assignment was actually pretty detailed. The summation of it is that I wanted students to explore a religion (in some cases a philosophy that morphed into a religion over time) they were unfamiliar with. I wanted to utilize the principle that you learn something far better when you teach it. I also wanted the students to have an opportunity to have scaffolded research time where I was on hand to help them.
I made a variety of assumptions. The first is that the students were familiar with what the characteristics of a religion are (we had talked about it previously). Next, I assumed that the students could utilize the various parts of Google Drive collaboratively (we had done it in the past). Additionally, I expected that the students knew phrases like after life, and that they would know how to decide the affect of the religion on society (this was a bit hit or miss). Finally, I assumed that they knew what a lesson plan was and could replicate it with their own lesson (this was hit or miss, as well).
Now that the background is out of the way let’s use Rubric 1.0 to evaluate my Religions Assignment.
My assessment doesn’t meet the first criterion (“assesses thinking and problem solving”). While it does use previous skills and vocabulary, it doesn’t ask the students to solve a problem or truly transfer knowledge from one realm into another. It is simply a variation of the typical transfer of knowledge. There was a lesson plan element, which would require some transfer, and it looks as though I attempted to at least touch on this with:
- Explain how the religion affected the society in which it was practiced.
- Explain what you can learn about the society where the religion was founded.
- Explain how the religion affected the social classes of the society.
However, I feel like it would have been more beneficial to perhaps have them create a criteria through which they would look at different religions to ascertain where they intersect and diverge, and then use that skill to do something similar with what is happening in their lives now.
The second criterion is “it provides opportunity for specific Feedback that can be used for improvement.” In this area, it is harder to see from the assignment whether I hit this particular target. The students were given feedback from their peers as well as me pointing out areas of strength and areas of improvement. They also evaluated themselves and were given an opportunity to talk through what went well for them and where they could improve in regards to working together, as well as the final product. They did not edit and turn the assignment in again, but there were several more assignments in this vain that they could use the feedback on in the future to continuously improve. While not exactly what the rubric calls for, this is a step in the right direction.
The third and final criterion is “student self assessment.” This is another area in which the assignment holds up fairly well. As noted, the rubric was little more than a checklist, but it clearly showed what was expected of the students which allowed them to know exactly what was expected. Students also assessed their learning after the assignment was complete and presented to determine areas of strength and improvement as mentioned above.
While I am just beginning the process of developing a rubric to use to assess my assessments, I feel as though it is already assisting me in thinking through how I can help teachers now that I am in a different role look at assignments with new eyes to determine if they are truly helping with student learning.