Planning for the Collection of Evidence

  1. As you think about learning activities (the middle column in the planning guide shown here) you should also be thinking concurrently about assessment activities (the right hand column). Assessment activities provide some kind of evidence or "proof" of what has been learned (deciding on these is Step 4 in the teaching and learning cycle). The proof may be some kind of teacher or peer observation. For example, in this activity, Joan often collects evidence by observing students as they participate in brainstorming activities and jotting down evidence of the problem solving strategies she sees them use. (A tool for developing a Teacher Observation Log can be found in the toolkit.) She may even develop a simple checklist of problem solving strategies to look for, such as those found in the second bullet in the Level 2 Indicators: reformulating the problem, summarizing, paraphrasing, drawing analogies, and drawing causal links between the problem and its context. (See the Tools section of the toolkit for tips on developing a checklist.) The collection and interpretation of evidence can be more or less formal at different stages of the teaching and learning process. For example, as Joan observes students' discussion of the uses for family meal planning and identifying problems that could arise, she will be informally looking for evidence of student understanding. In many cases there may be some kind of culminating activity that ties what has been learned together. In this example, coming up with a weekly budget and food plan, making a plan to carry it out, and keep a log to reflect on the experience was a culminating activity that pulled their work on this goal together.

  2. A last but equally important part of the assessment process involves deciding on how you will interpret the evidence. This means using specific criteria to evaluate how well the student can perform the activity. For example, when Joan's students talk about how they completed their performance task of planning a week of meals for their family, she and her students will be looking at how proficiently they have mastered certain skills that go into family meal planning and solving problems that surround such planning. She will be looking to see whether or not students are becoming proficient in solving problems and making decisions according to the definition of the standard at the performance level she selected. In this case, Joan may develop a rubric based on the level description to see if they are at the beginning, proficient or advanced level with respect to the skills the students have worked on and how mini-conferences with each student to talk about their progress. Her rating constitutes her interpretation of observed evidence of performance, in this case a combination of her informal observations, of each student's written plan, of their learning logs and of their reflections on how the plan worked. Carrying out the learning activities and assessment activities make up Steps 5 and 6 of the teaching and learning cycle.

  3. Within all of her activity plans, Joan tries to encourage students to end the activity with a time for reflecting on what they have learned, on how they might be able to transfer the skills related to what they have learned to other settings (Step 7 of the teaching and learning cycle) and a short discussion of next steps in relation to the particular standard they are working on (Step 8). Worksheets for each of these steps can be found in the toolkit. In this case, for example, students may have found that they have learned a great deal about the importance of clearly identifying a problem as a key part of the problem solving process but still would like to work on the process of identifying the underlying causes of problems. They may at this point, want to identify some a list of other problems-such as finding adequate child care or saving money to pay for further education-that they want to work on sometime in the future using the Standard Solve Problems and Make Decisions.

If you would like to learn more about collecting and interpreting evidence of learning, go to Section 1 of Improving Performance, Reporting Results: The Guide to Using the EFF Read with Understanding Assessment Prototype.

How will we show we know it? What evidence will we have? How will we interpret the evidence?
Teacher and student rating of budgeting performance task using checklist Completed student budget

Student checklist with self-rating

Teacher rating using same checklist

Informal teacher notes
Mini conference between teacher and student. Both share their interpretations of how well the student performed the task and decide if the student has reached a "proficient" or "advanced" level on the task or requires more practice.

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