Assess Student Learning Through Multiple Means
Assessment of student learning is an integral part of instruction. Teachers or student teachers get to know what students have learned and need to learn by collecting a variety of assessment data for analysis. They can assess student learning more accurately when students demonstrate learning through multiple means of action and expression (Meyer, Rose, & Gordon, 2014). Although oral questions/answers between a teacher and one student at a time can be an assessment tool, other ways to evaluate the learning of more if not all students simultaneously are no doubt worth exploring. Active student participation/interaction affects the quality of instruction (Liu, 2020) because it provides a context and opportunities for teachers to collect assessment data and redirect instruction. Therefore, this article examines how to assess student learning using different means. To illustrate application in the classroom, the teaching of “array” (key vocabulary: array, row, column, and commutative property) is used as a platform. Ways to assess student learning for discussion include partner collaboration, motions, labeling, and highlighting key information in the text.
Partner work between two students can be applied to engage and assess all of a class during teaching. For example, to begin a lesson, ask students to share with a shoulder partner what they know about “array”. It is important to specify expectations for Partner A and Partner B so that every student participates by taking turns. A teacher can walk around to monitor student interaction to assess prior knowledge. If students were to write on whiteboards before or after sharing (see Figure 1), additional assessment data would become available. Such data is valuable when a teacher guides students to bridge the gap between their prior learning or knowledge and a new concept.
Figure 1: Student responding on whiteboards: What do you know about “array”?
After the introduction of the keywords, one option is to guide students to practice and build connections in learning the target concept with hand motions. Appropriate visuals and print should be displayed to support students’ academic language development. See Figure 2 for an example of how the motions are aligned to the target key concept with key vocabulary. Assessment data would be collected by observing how students participate in the activity through oral and physical responses to any given words, definitions, or simple scenarios. Students can be assessed of their level of confidence or uncertainty about the concept based on their participation or demonstration.
Figure 2: Support content and academic language development with motions
Another way to collect assessment data is to engage students in labeling. By using whiteboards, all students can participate and practice at the same time. It should be more efficient to use sample arrays of smaller numbers such as 2×3 or 2×4 with a focus on studying the concept. Otherwise, students have to spend more time drawing an array of larger numbers. Figure 3 presents how labeling can be done. Students should be expected to spell out any of the key words at least once for labeling.
Figure 3: Apply labeling to build connections in concept learning with key vocabulary
Highlighting key information in text
Many students are often challenged to solve word problems. To provide support, a teacher should guide students to look for key information in a word problem. Analysis of the key information is essential for students to figure out its operation and draw a model or array before they write number sentences and explain their work. Visuals or pictures about a word problem should be provided to help students process the text (see Figure 4). When students find the equal group numbers and what the numbers represent, they are prepared to further examine how the two are related. Labeling the numbers or equal groups should be a step to take prior to writing number sentences for problem-solving.
Figure 4: Analysis of a word problem
In summary, teachers are well-positioned to evaluate student learning if they plan any lessons with a list of assessment means for application in teaching. When they provide more opportunities for students to demonstrate learning during a lesson, more comprehensive and accurate assessment data can be obtained for analysis. Such data and data analysis is essential for teachers to make appropriate adjustments to build on students’ assets and address their needs during instruction.
Liu, P. (2020). Promoting active student participation and interaction in a virtual classroom. Dual Language Schools, https://duallanguageschools.org/columnists/promoting-active-student-participation-and-interaction-in-a-virtual-classroom/
Meyer, A., Rose, D. H., & Gordon, D. (2014). Universal design for learning: Theory and practice. CAST.