The Young Teacher\\\'s Guide To Marking Non-Traditional Assessment Tas
Mar 8, 2012 Teaching 1967 Views
Preamble: To begin, it is important to define what I mean by the term 'non-traditional assessment'. By non-traditional, I mean assessment items other than the formal pen on paper examinations and essay type assignments. They include; research assignments; practical tests; assessment instruments using technology or the student's personally collected data.
Marking non-traditional assessment tasks can be first and foremost, more time consuming than the marking of traditional pen on paper examinations and assignments. Secondly, it is more difficult, initially, to create consistency in marking. Thirdly, there may be a variety of ways to approach answering the tasks involved in a non-traditional assessment item.
This article is designed to eliminate or lessen the impact of these issues and make the whole marking procedure easier, more efficient and less time consuming. Below are a number of strategies that I developed as part of the process of implementing a number of new Mathematics syllabuses where the use of a variety of assessment strategies was mandated for the school work programs to be approved. These strategies developed over a number of years with my staff giving valuable input into the process.
1. Organise a basic model answer for each part. Add extra acceptable solutions to your model answer/s as you mark the students' test items.
2. Create a set of criteria that augment your model answer.
3. Decide what skills you are testing and link them to items 1and 2 above.
4. Set out a standards grid to fit into item 3 and link it with your basic model answer.
5. Mark one part at a time for all students. This will create a consistent standard of marking. You will also find other acceptable solutions or approaches to the task.
6. In alternative or non-traditional assessment, students often use their own data so your model answer is but a guide. This creates problems for your marking that you must address. It basically involves a decision on what is most important, accuracy of content or the use of the content in the process of tackling the task at hand. You need to decide on any penalty you would apply for inaccuracy of the data.*
7. Communication has become an important issue recently. Syllabuses often require that it be taken into account in the final rating of assessment items. This can be in the form of separate marking criteria. So you must consider at least the following;
(a) Long written report versus a short, precise and concise report
(b) Use of the correct terminology of the subject as opposed to the use of good English/language
(c) Visual appearance of the report versus the quality of the content of the report
(d) Ask yourself the question, "How important are communication skills in your subject?" Then decide about any penalties for poor use of language.
*The issue of accuracy of data used becomes more important in non-traditional assessment tasks. In an effort to create assessment tasks that reflect real life situations, teachers sometimes expect students to find their own data sometimes in the form of survey responses. This data may be flawed. Does that invalidate the answer completely? No! However, how do you deal with this situation? Here are a few ideas to consider.
1. Accuracy needs to be defined for each particular subject area. Obviously, there ought to be some penalty for inaccuracy but the process should be the main component assessed. Remember the lack of accuracy may come down to a simple error of copying or even a mechanical error in Maths. On the other hand, accuracy might be paramount in the skill being tested.
2. If the inaccuracy of the data is related to a basic skill error or learning work, then the student should be penalised within that marking criteria. Then he/she should receive the appropriate marks for how he/she used that data (wrong as it may be). In other words, don't penalise the student twice for the same mistake.
3. Knowing how to deal with data again is crucial. You can bypass this issue of inaccuracy by giving a separate mark for data collection and one for the use or interpretation of that data. There are two scenarios to consider:
Wrong/incorrect data versus correct interpretation of the wrong data and careless calculation versus correct interpretation of that careless calculation.
Other Issues To Address:
1. The length of a report should be specified. The students need to be taught to use the language and terminology of their subject. To test this effectively, you need to have a set of communication criteria.
2. Obviously, presentation is more important in some subjects than in others or in different test instruments. Again, you need to specify the presentation skills required in your criteria and on the test instruments notes.
3. Don't penalise a hand written report when you compare it with a computer generated report, i.e. don't allow good computer skills to enhance the mark given when you are not testing computer skills.
For further information on this topic ( see "The Exam Book") and other publications aimed at the young and beginning teacher, visit the website http://www.realteachingsolutions.com