Evaluation and Assessment

Pre and Post assessments

The articles on Active learning revitalize my belief in teaching a central idea. I am the classroom leader and sometimes I become the student. I attempt to teach a subject and I see blank faces and sometimes I see that a student can explain the same thing that I just did but they are able to take to a level that others are able to follow and that’s is differentiating instruction. Grouping is vital because it provides the opportunity for students to share information and sometimes the advance or leader of the group becomes a follower. Roles are reverse and students can learn to do many roles within their groups. The perennial type of learning must go out the window and the new form must be in place. I start all of my lessons with a pre assessment tool and I find myself in aw when I see the amount of students who surprisingly have background knowledge on the topic or the amount who does not know anything. At the end of each section I give the same pre-assessment tool, I have the students’ grade their learning and they are force to make connections with the following section, and because I am working on a thematic unit, they tend to make this connection.

Guillermo Alleyne
Guillermo Alleyne
865 Activity Points

I'm going to have to try a pre and post assessment. Do you find the students pay more attention and are more into the lessons?

Kelly Amendola
Kelly Amendola
10320 Activity Points

I have also used "student leaders" in my classroom. After teaching a topic, I ask for a show of hands - "how many of you really get this now?" and "how many of you are not quite there yet?" And then I have the students that raised their hands to the first question, find a student with their hand raised to the second question, and go help them. The students usually have a worksheet or lab report they are using, and they do a great job of helping each other. I also have a student leader that has decided to come to my classroom everyday at lunchtime to tutor other students. I am present to help direct any questions she can not answer, but overall she does a great job. Thoughts?

Susanne Hokkanen
Susanne Hokkanen
79060 Activity Points

I really like your idea of student leaders and having them help a student that isn't quite understanding a topic. At the end of my lessons I have to have a reflect/share period, maybe I'll add your idea and see how that pans out. When my students are doing independent work I don't allow them to ask me a question unless they asked everyone in their groups first. If no one in their group knows the answer then they can ask me. I find that really works well because the students need to ask their classmates, it took a little while to have them work well together and not to depend on my for answers.

Kelly Amendola
Kelly Amendola
10320 Activity Points

I find that sometimes students can explain things better to other students, who are not getting it, as I am teaching it. And it helps the student leaders gain a higher level of understanding on the topic. On the topic of pre-assessments - I have found most students are not true to "trying" on preassessments, if they know their scores don't count...and really how can we "count" them or grade them? So, I began using probes, such as Page Keeley's "Uncovering Student Ideas in Science," or I design my own that are similar, to flush out student misconceptions etc...I have found those to be more effective in evaluating what students know or think they know on a topic. If you use pre-assessments in teaching, how do you gain student "buy-in" to insure an authentic assessment of what they really know?

Susanne Hokkanen
Susanne Hokkanen
79060 Activity Points

Suzanne asks, "If you use pre-assessments in teaching, how do you gain student "buy-in" to insure an authentic assessment of what they really know?" I think that everything a teacher does needs to have a purpose - and a purpose that the students can "buy-into" as well. Pre assessments can be taken seriously, if our students understand why they are doing it. I love an example of a pre/post assessment I found in one of the Picture Perfect Book series. The authors created a pre/post reading assessment. I believe they called it something else- the name escapes me- but there were 6 statements about mollusks. Students determined if the statements were true or false based on their prior knowledge. Then the teacher read an exerpt from a trade book about mollusks. As the teacher read the information, students were to listen for the answers to their 6 statements. If they heard an answer, they gave their teacher a visual cue (like touching their ears or noses). After the reading, they retook the same test. It was the first time I had ever seen a pre/post assessment used as a form of formative assessment. With this pre/post assessment, I think it is easy for a student to 'buy in'. I wonder what others' ideas are for how to create ways for our students to take pre assessments seriously. Thanks, Carolyn

Carolyn Mohr
Carolyn Mohr
86463 Activity Points

I also like the pre/post assessment found in the Picture Perfect Book series. They called it an anticipation guide. I really like how it is limited to 6 general questions. I believe that pre-tests are successful if they don’t overwhelm the students. You don’t want students to get anxious about the content that they being introduced to. Instead, keeping the pretest short is a great way to pique the students’ curiosity. Thanks, Carolyn, for the tip on how to evaluate if the students are gaining knowledge during the reading. A visual cue is a great way to help students show that they are on task.

Nicky Durband
Nicky Durband
1670 Activity Points

My room is so big, the visual thumbs up, or thumbs down, or thumbs sideways does not work...too hard to see. To give students an opportunity to move around a bit, I sometimes have the students "stand" to demonstrate they "get it" - although I know there are students who are too shy to stand. In a professional development opportunity with Page Keeley, she mentioned using colored cups - red, yellow and green - and the student teams demonstrate when they need assistance with the color of their cup...that is something I might try. I have also heard of using the colored index cards, but again I think those would be difficult to see unless the students hold them up. (I have a really big room.) Other ideas or suggestions?

Susanne Hokkanen
Susanne Hokkanen
79060 Activity Points

I don't usually have much success when I give students an actual pretest. Often times, I can tell students aren't even reading the questions and are just guessing. I almost feel like its a waste of time. Instead of getting students to start thinking about the next unit and buy into it, I just get lots of groaning and whining. I usually have more success when I start a new unit with some kind of discrepant event, demo, or lab. Rather than giving a written pretest, I might introduce the states of matter unit by having them play with cornstarch and water. I work with freshmen, so they have already had states of matter. So when I ask them what state of matter cornstarch and water should be classified as they have pretty good discussions in their lab groups. The problem I have with all of this however is that I feel like my students are not getting prepared for standardized testing. Often times, my department creates common end of unit assessments that are similar in format to standardized tests. For my students, this now becomes a test of literacy as opposed to concept comprehension. Both are very important. However, I feel like both pre and post assessments should be similar in format. But when I try written pretests I don't get great results. Any thoughts?

Angela Borszcz
Angela Borszcz
650 Activity Points

Susanne, I have tried the red, yellow, green cards and have not had a lot of success. Students are asked to work with their lab groups on practice questions. I explain how to use the cards - red means you can't do anything else without my immediate help, etc... I try to stress that need to ask each other for help, before putting the red card up. What usually happens however is that I will have some groups that will just always keep their red card up and won't help each other. Perhaps, allowing students to choose their own groups would be more effective.

Angela Borszcz
Angela Borszcz
650 Activity Points

The rating scale is use in mu classroom is are we sitting on it or, crawling, walking, or running with it. My goal is to have enough practice in my class for every student to leave ready to walk with a new concept. If we get that far practice can get them to run with it. As for pre-tests and post tests, I recall in my graduate classes learning that this was generally not an effective measure of change. One can improve with an adjustment for "regression to the mean." I have more of less abandoned the pretest approach in favor of formative assessments that identify the current level of understanding and provide me with effective feedback on where to target a lesson. Yes this can require a component of invention on the fly. As I have become more familiar with student misconceptions and more comfortable with both content myself, I have been better able to adjust lessons midstream. I could not have done this as a beginning instructor. To make certain that students are not just parroting me, my favorite question has become "How do you know that?" Because I said so in not an acceptable response.

Pamela Auburn
Pamela Auburn
68525 Activity Points

I have also started using Line Of Learning as a pre-test, when I don't use KWHL's. It provides students with an opportunity to reflect on what they already know and still have to learn and we revisit which ever version we are using periodically to see if anything has changed. Since these are a part of the daily "bellringers" they serve two purposes and don't take a lot more out of class time.

Tina Harris
Tina Harris
65805 Activity Points

I stared using "how do you know that" questioning in class and right now I see a change in the way my students answer. I also used to do a lot of filling in. They would answer me and I would simply fill in what they missed. I found that this unit I am doing less of that and that I have really incorporated How and Why in my classroom. I have to give my students exit slips at the end of class and I find that my students are overall doing much better on them. Also, their independent work has improved and their learning assignments. I have to give pre-tests but I use that information along with the exit slips and the independent work to assess my students.

Kelly Amendola
Kelly Amendola
10320 Activity Points

Hi Sue, How about using your room itself? By this, section your room into level 1 (please stay near here, I need help), level 2 (check on me, please...I may be confused), level 3 (I doubt if I need help), and level 4 (Leave me alone, I got this). Or some variation on the defined levels. Students segregate themselves and the groups are flexible (could change daily as you are working). This will help you know where you to focus your time and energy plus, you can have the expectation of the "I got this group" to pitch in and answer questions if they are done with their work. Susan

Susan German
Susan German
32075 Activity Points

I have never found pre-assessments to be of much value in science. When I taught math, I thought they were an excellent way to guide student learning. Not so much for science because there are too many facets to science concepts. Also, the reason I am anti-multiple choice tests as the ONLY means of assessment for science. I prefer to use the class time I have doing other activities than giving a pre-assessment. I prefer performance based assessments, student choice of how they would like to demonstrate concept knowledge, written explanations, etc. I find multiple choice tests to be demonstrators of what a student does not know rather than what they do know! I prefer to see what they know within a concept and take it from there for re-teaching or correcting misconceptions.

Nancy Bort
Nancy Bort
7025 Activity Points

I love using pre and post assessments for all of the units that I teach in math. They really are able to show you how students have progressed and what they have learned throughout the unit as well as what may need to be re-addressed at some point. However, I had a lot of students who would just "Christmas tree" the pre test because they knew that they could not be held accountable for what they did not know and that the grade that they made on the pre test would not affect their final grade. I work at a school that is very low income and a lot of the students really struggle with completing assignments outside of the school setting because they are having to go home and look after younger siblings while their parents are at work. Therefore, we do not really give a lot of homework because the kids really do not have time to do it. So what I started doing to give students outside work and to incorporate the pre test scores are choice board activities. For every unit, I create a listed of tiered assignments that the students can choose from. They will chose 2-3 activities from a given tier according to what the score was that they made on their pre test. Not only does this hold them accountable for their pre test scores (because everybody wants to be on the "top tier"), it also caters to each students individual learning styles and abilities because they are able to chose the activities that they want to do from the list of activities given to them. Their tier level changes every unit because some students know more about one thing than they do another before going into the unit. This has really seemed to help and it lets the kids know up front what they are going to struggle with for a particular unit as well as giving me an effective way to group students according to strengths and weaknesses for each unit that we do. I uploaded a sample choice board activity so you can see exactly what I am talking about. If they decide that they want to do a certain activity that they need extra resources for, they can ask me for the experiment directions or print them off my school website.

Attachments

Choice_Board.doc (0.03 Mb)

Brittany Hatcher
Brittany Hatcher
1395 Activity Points

Another thing that is really good about using both a pre-test and a post-test with each topic that you are covering is the DATA!! With all of the new guidelines that teachers are having to follow and the level of accountablity that teachers are being held to, the range of improvement from the pre-test to the post-test for each student is documentation of how you are doing teaching the material. If there is a section on a given unit that students did poorly on, as a teacher, you should recognize that you need to spend more time on that section or, in the case of a post-test, re-address topics previously learned through a remediation time.

Brittany Hatcher
Brittany Hatcher
1395 Activity Points

I really like the idea of asking students "how do they know this" I always tell them they must have support behind their answers and never say " I don't know." I don't use pre tests often maybe a few times a years if I know it's a competely new conpect to my students. It's great way to know if they have any background knowledge. Many times before I give a post or end of the unit test I give a review worksheet where I take the post test and mix around the problems. I go over the answers and make sure students ask questions if they are not sure of something. Then I give the post test a few days later. Thanks, Helen

Helen Hicks
Helen Hicks
2635 Activity Points

I agree that pre- post- paper-and-pencil tests provide quantitative data that can be used for comparison. And I think any teacher who is familiar with educational literature uses pre- and post- tests to determine student learning and to evaluate their own lessons. However, I also agree with many of the people here who are implicitly stating that data can be qualitative and does not necessarily have to be in a paper-pencil (or the electronic equivalent) format to determine student learning and document change. I can document student learning from journal entries and use that as a data source which both I and the student can use to compare with either authentic assessment responses or traditional test formats to determine what has been learned. I use both paper-pencil and/or qualitative and/or authentic assessments depending on the content knowledge and the process skills I want to teach. I believe that it would be doing our students a disservice to not teach them how to take paper-pencil tests as they will be taking them the entire time they are in formal education. And I believe there are ways to develop these that allow teachers to find out content knowledge at a variety of conceptual levels, although I would be the first to admit, I took a couple graduate level classes to learn how to do this. In addition to giving paper-pencil tests, we also discuss [b][i]how [/i][/b]to take these tests until students are as comfortable as one can be in a testing situation. On the other hand, once they are free of the realms of education, they really need to demonstrate more practical knowledge of how to process information, how to measure with a ruler, how to tell if an electric circuit works or had a break in it, etc. Although in our current world where we must justify [i]Everything [/i]we do pre- post-tests for data are important to document student content knowledge we must recognize there are multiple ways to collect data and that it isn't only content knowledge that we are teaching but life skills. Sorry to preach to the choir - We wouldn't be posting to this forum if we didn't believe there was a reason to use these measures. And I have really enjoyed seeing the alternative methods people have been using - it is actually rather exciting to see things I can add to my "repertoire" you all have such good ideas!! Does anyone else use pre-tests to help students to learn how to answer different styles of test questions? I know I use them to teach how to answer essay questions and math story problems - anyone else find this helpful? I also have sometimes found using process skills motivates students to want to learn how to do science skills. Has anyone else tried that?

Tina Harris
Tina Harris
65805 Activity Points

Hi All: After reading all the comments on this topic there seems to be an equal divide between those who like and those who dislike using pre and post test assessments. No one mentioned what type of pre and post assessment they used. I think that might have a dramatic effect on whether or not one finds them helpful. As a result I am going to post my collection of formative assessment tools that might be of help to those who don't think they are useful.


Formative Assessment Collection
(30 items)
How Does Student Performance on Formative Assessments Relate to Learning Assessed by Exams?
     -Journal Article
Seamless Assessment
     -Journal Article
Nature's Advice Book
     -Journal Article

Adah Stock
Adah Stock
101510 Activity Points

My pre-assessments are surveys given on BlackBoard or using Survey Monkey. I just want to know the prior knowledge they possess so I can create my instruction path. I have also use class discussions to solicit this same knowledge. For instance this year I will use the Ted Talks discussion with bioethicist Gregory Stock on "Upgrading the Human." I'll link this talk to evolution standards and bioethics. As far as the summative assessment, students will have an option to connect concepts in evolutionary biology to refute/or support the ideas Gregory Stock presented.

Apartment Patino
Mario Patino
1295 Activity Points

Hello Everyone:
I just completed reading an article about Pre and Post Testing and thought that it might be interesting for others to read. It is in the Learning Center and called: Science Sampler: Solar Panels and Althernative Energy In The 8th grade Classroom.
Adah

Adah Stock
Adah Stock
101510 Activity Points

Being a recent student, I know that most students don’t take pretests seriously; after all, they don’t count right? However, now from the teaching standpoint, I see how beneficial they are regarding gathering background knowledge data. In my science methods class we are talking a lot about formative assessments such as probes, discrepant events, etc. In my opinion, these methods are more authentic, and invite the student to be a part of the learning. In addition, they serve as a great way to guide curriculum in the next classes on that unit.

Cassandra Braden
Cassandra Braden
1005 Activity Points

Cassandra, One of the important reasons for using formative assessment comes from recent research in cognitive neuroscience. It is impossible to teach over a misconception. In order to effectively correct misconceptions, the misconception MUST be brought into working memory, corrected and restored in long term memory. The best analogy that I can think of right now is what happens when one misplaces keys. I always leave my keys on the kitchen counter. Then one day I rush into the house the phone is ringing and I drop my keys on the console table by the phone. Later I can not find my keys and keep returning to the kitchen counter thinking they will magically appear. In the same way students will continue to return to a misconception even when they know it is wrong. The only way to effectively address this is to elicit the misconception using formative assessments (discrepant events, probes). This brings the misconception into working memory where it can be corrected through reprocessing and stored corrected.

Pamela Auburn
Pamela Auburn
68525 Activity Points

Pamela stated: One of the important reasons for using formative assessment comes from recent research in cognitive neuroscience. It is impossible to teach over a misconception. In order to effectively correct misconceptions, the misconception MUST be brought into working memory, corrected and restored in long term memory. The best analogy that I can think of right now is what happens when one misplaces keys. I always leave my keys on the kitchen counter. Then one day I rush into the house the phone is ringing and I drop my keys on the console table by the phone. Later I can not find my keys and keep returning to the kitchen counter thinking they will magically appear. In the same way students will continue to return to a misconception even when they know it is wrong. The only way to effectively address this is to elicit the misconception using formative assessments (discrepant events, probes). This brings the misconception into working memory where it can be corrected through reprocessing and stored corrected. I never thought of it in that way! That is an awesome analogy! When students bring misconceptions to the classrooms, pre-assessments are supposed to bring them to the forefront so that we can discuss them in an educated setting. In my classroom, I like to use "bell questions" to create a discussion point that introduces the new topic and how we are going to approach the new lesson. Since this is relatively new to the students, I let them know that there is no correct answer, just tell me what "you" think. I agree that if I used a multiple choice format, then it would probably not be the most effective way to glean what the students already know since it putting the students in the testing frame of mind. But from the perspective of data teams, I can see how using multiple choice assessments would be easier to create data patterns per class.

Elizabeth Penn-Jones
Elizabeth Penn-Jones
1280 Activity Points

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