Assessment

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No—we’re not seeing double. The Science Teacher and Science Scope both have the same theme this month—a double dose of information and ideas on the topic of assessment. Whichever issue you get, I hope you look at the other one for additional ideas from our fellow science educators.

I love this cover image. It’s exciting in the classroom when the light bulbs go off as students understand a concept or perfect a skill. But this is obviously a metaphor—how do we really know when students understand? How can we measure or assess what they are learning?

Beyond Grading has examples of rubrics that the authors used for several student projects. The interesting part of the article is how the authors developed and field-tested the rubrics. Their references include Rubistar which is one of the best websites on the topic that I’ve seen and used. Assessment for Learning looks at formative assessment during problem-based and project-based learning. The authors include many examples of activities that can be used to guide student learning in a variety of learning environments. (Related SciLinks: Stem Cells)

Sometimes students have difficulty in expressing their understanding because they have a limited vocabulary. A Place for Content Literacy describes several vocabulary and comprehension strategies that can be incorporated in science instruction: brainstorming, categorizing, graphic organizers such as anticipation/reaction guides, and KWL charts.

Student attitudes, interests, and perceptions can influence their learning. The authors of The Affective Elements of Science Learning describe how they developed and field-tested a student questionnaire. They provide a copy of the instrument (see the Connections for this issue). If you have a clicker system, this would be even easier to implement and analyze the results.

The Concept Attainment Strategy has two examples of how to structure an inductive lesson that has opportunities for students to examine data and search for critical attributes. The author encourages students to use self-assessment as they progress through the activity. (Related SciLinks: Arthropods, Chemical Formulas)

In projects, students demonstrate how they can integrate and apply what they are learning in science and other subjects. How Much Carbon Is in the Forest shows how students have to do most of the work in order to learn. (Related SciLinks: Carbon Cycle)

A friend of mine is senior curator and lead zoologist at a local museum. He is a trained herpetologist, and the spotlight Career of the Month: Herpetologist captures what he does on a daily basis. I like his advice for students: Do not let anyone tell you that you should be following a profession that does not make you happy and satisfied. (Related SciLinks: Herpetology)

Related SciLinks to topics in Headline Science:

Check out the Connections for this issue (January 2011). Even if the article does not quite fit with your lesson agenda, this resource has ideas for handouts, background information sheets, data sheets, rubrics, etc.

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