We’ll start with a quick rundown of how assessment is central to effective inquiry-based work, then we’ll get into teacher feedback from work accomplished during the Focus on Inquiry study.
How assessment is central to effective inquiry-based work:
(Read more about this here)
- All assessment practices are tied to specific tasks that make up the study. Whatever students have designed and constructed must work. The impact of the work on others is an integral component of assessment.
- Standards of assessment are more closely tied to the actual standards of the disciplines, as they currently exist. Students are the artists, the scientists and the explorers.
- Adults other than the teacher are involved in performance assessment. These can be experts and other community members.
- Exhibitions of learning become a valued component of assessment. Self and peer evaluation is also a critical component of assessment.
- Students’ ability to defend their solutions, points of view or products is essential.
- The assessment program supports diverse points of view, different approaches to a problem and unique solutions, rather than standardization.
Tools of assessment used during the Focus on Inquiry study:
- Rubrics: Different types of rubrics exist, but common features are that it outlines features, levels and descriptors of what understanding/concept mastery looks like.
- Detailed, effective conversations that took place with partners, groups, and between teachers/students and other adults/experts who are invited into the task.
- The five key strategies of formative assessment were used as guidelines throughout the study. Read more about them here.
Feedback from teachers:
- “Assessment is where I struggle most. I often find that I do a bunch of marking, but it doesn’t affect the students or they do not consider it.”
- Teachers also wanted more time to work on assessment practices: “I would like more time to talk to teachers from other schools and talk about what their program looks like, and how they assess, and why.”
- “I learned that by asking good (reframed) questions, it can give us valuable insight into students’ understanding. It’s important to phrase your question in a way that fosters deeper thinking.”
- “I understand the importance of creating rubrics and assessments with students, and it’s important to set time aside to focus on why and how to build them.”
- Building rubrics for math was challenging for some: “I find math the most difficult subject to make a concise rubric for.”
- “I will continue to focus my growth on activating students as instructional resources for one another. Teaching students to be effective critics of their work and the work of their peers is a challenge.”
- “I’ve learned that feedback should lead to action.”
Want to read more? Check out the Focus on Inquiry digital resource.