Science Teaching Series

Internet Resources

I. Developing Scientific Literacy

II. Developing Scientific Reasoning

III. Developing Scientific Understanding

IV. Developing Scientific Problem Solving

V. Developing Scientific Research Skills

VI. Resources for Teaching Science

Formative & Summative Assessment

25.6.1 – Formative assessment

Madeline Hunter, an influential American educator and author of numerous works on curriculum and instruction, said “To say that you have taught when students haven't learned is to say you have sold when no one has bought. But how can you know that students have learned without spending hours correcting tests and papers? . . . check students understanding while you are teaching (not at 10 o'clock at night when you're correcting papers) so you don't move on with unlearned material that can accumulate like a snowball and eventually engulf the student in confusion and despair.
” Hunter was speaking of the need for formative assessment – feedback from learning activities that is used by the instructor to adapt teaching to meet the immediate needs of learners. The following are techniques for formative assessment.

Audience response systems - Audience response systems (personal response systems) can be used to collect and analyze student responses to multiple choice and true/false questions. Such devices provide immediate feedback to specific prompts, but do not allow full text entry as is needed for free response questions. (figure 25.4).

Electronic groups – If your have classroom access to the Internet, use an electronic chat or newsgroup to elicit student response to your questions [].

Think/Pair/Share – Provide students with time to write a response to a thought provoking question, then additional time to discuss it with their neighbor before sharing their conclusion with the class.

Interview - Interview students about their thinking as they solve problems. This metacognitive strategy works well during guided practice or in the laboratory when using rotating labs (section 22.5).

Whiteboards – Prepare student whiteboards by cutting white shower board into small rectangles. Many home improvement stores will cut it for you. Provide students with dry erase markers and ask them to write, draw, or diagram answers to questions you pose. When asked, all students should hold up their boards simultaneously, providing the teacher with a quick assessment of what students understand.

Voting – Provide several possible answers to a question, then ask students to vote for by raising their hands.

Quick-writes – Throughout your lesson, ask students to demonstrate their understanding by answering prompts in their science notebooks . Teachers can scan student responses as they move through the class. If few are writing, then it is likely that few understand.

25.6.2 – Summative Assessment

Summative assessments are provided at end of a unit to determine how much students have learned. Summative assessments provide information for determining grades and giving students feedback on their performance. Summative assessments may come in the form of papers, homework problems, lab reports (3.4.1), projects (22.3, 23.1-4), quizzes, and tests, and can include objective or subjective tasks. Objective tasks have clear right and wrong answers, examples of which include mathematical solutions, multiple choice, true/false, and fill in the blank questions. Subjective tasks are more open-ended, do not have obvious right and wrong answers, and must be evaluated by professionals who truly understand the material. Criterion-referenced assessments are based on content-based expectations, while norm-referenced assessments compare students to others who have taken the same test. Students pass criterion-referenced tests by obtaining a score in excess of a predetermined cutscore, while they pass norm-referenced tests by performing better than a given percentage of others who took the same test.