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Student with bookIt's A Wild Ride - Assessing Learning

"Assessment is generally considered the last requirement in a unit to test students on what they learned. However, in our view assessment is an ongoing process and an integral part of the unit from the very beginning. Developing a rubric to guide our assessments creates a more authentic environment."
Theresa Maves

Defining Quality Work
The teachers develop and use scoring rubrics that they share with students as performance tasks are introduced. The home roller coaster project includes five criteria for which students are scored as "Meets Mastery" or "Redesign Required." For full credit students are asked to write a description of how they would redesign their ride to meet the criteria.

Monitoring Progress
Theresa, Meile, and Jill each use regular journaling to track progress and identify problems before they grow. Depending on the journal entry, students may turn them in for review and receive credit for complete responses. During the final group project, design team members meet during their science period to report on their individual progress.

Sample scoring sheet

Scoring Student Work
The teachers developed a variety of scoring guides designed to assess both individual and group work, and used them liberally throughout the project.

When it came to the final group presentations, the three teachers watched the presentations and made notes. But they found that the presentations went too quickly and were difficult to grade while students presented in class. So, they decided to grade the projects together, without students present. Theresa describes the process they used.


Student Work: The Roller Coaster Design Team Proposals
Each final presentation by design teams was led by the public relations director. The entire team had to contribute specific points during the presentation. Most teams used PowerPoint for their multimedia presentation, though a few built Web sites, and a couple made videos. Four different team proposals are below. Teacher narrative describes the performance of each team member on his or her task.

Group Two: The Regurgitator

The Regurgitator title
This group, two boys and two girls, were helped along by their public relations person who, according to the teachers, pulled things together.



Ticket Booth

Group Three: The Black Diamond

The Black Diamond title
This group's public relations director chose to build a Web page to support the presentation, it explained the theme and features of the ride. The architect's poster also reflected the creativity of this group.

Group Four: The History of Roller Coasters
This group's engineer and architect brought the best out in each other.

Group Six: The Amazon
The Amazon title
This group, with the same balance in gender, had a similar need as many of the groups--more time for the architect and engineer to coordinate their tasks.

graph image


Multiple Assessments

"Traditional testing still gives the quickest survey of what students know on a knowledge level and shows how well this type of curriculum and instruction transfers to new situations." Theresa Maves

All three teachers believe strongly in performance assessment. They see the final group design presentation with its required products as the most significant assessment for this project. However, they also include traditional testing methods during projects. Both Meile and Theresa developed multiple choice tests for this unit. Another assessment tool Theresa uses is to ask her students to create their own multiple choice tests, from which she can choose questions while formulating her final exam.


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