Assessing Understandingby: Donna R. Sterling

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Try using an assessment cycle to effectively probe students' understanding of scientific concepts. The diagnostic, formative, summative, and confirmatory assessment can be embedded into any unit of study.

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Reviews (4)
  • on Tue Nov 22, 2016 9:51 PM

This is a great article for any teacher looking to understand the meaning and purpose of assessment. The author tells of four different types of assessment: diagnostic, formative, summative and confirmative and also describes the number and types of questions that would appear on each type of assessment. Additionally, for teachers looking to expand their repertoire of questions used on assessments, the article mentions the sample test questions written by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) that provide examples of higher order thinking questions. A great article for teachers wanting to truly assess their students' learning to purposefully guide instruction.

Hilary P
Hilary P

  • on Tue Apr 02, 2013 5:56 PM

This article discusses the need for ongoing assessment in the classroom. The authors describe the cycle of assessment and the importance of including all forms of assessment in lesson planning and presenting. Moreover the author discussion the need to ask higher order questions and offers NAEP examples of "probing questions". Probing questions consist of "choice explain," "advantage disadvantage," "interpretting data questions," and "experimental design" questions. Examples were provided for each. Overall this is a very thorough article that offers insight and examples into how to ask higher-order thinking questions to assess to student understanding. Highly recommended!

Susanne Hokkanen  (Orland Park, IL)
Susanne Hokkanen (Orland Park, IL)

  • on Thu Apr 26, 2012 4:53 PM

This article explains that assessment is a 4-step series of events. Teachers need to engage in diagnostic, formative, summative, and confirmatory assessments for every unit of study to make sure that their students are grasping the concepts and retaining their understandings over time. The author goes through each of the stages of assessment using examples of assessments from her own work with students. This an excellent summary of what ongoing assessment should look like. After reading the article, teachers will understand why all 4 stages need to be part of an assessment cycle for each of their teaching units, and they will be able to take a unit and begin to implement the stages to help their students improve their learning and understanding.

Carolyn M  (Buffalo Grove, IL)
Carolyn M (Buffalo Grove, IL)

  • on Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:45 AM

The essence of the article was to remind educators that our assessing of students understanding should be covered in knowing exactly what we are looking for. We should also probe students more beyond surface level questions that can easily be answered with "yes/no" responses. The article painted a clear picture of how to move from lower level questioning to higher order questioning. I enjoyed it!

Javaye Stubbs  (Flowery Branch, GA)
Javaye Stubbs (Flowery Branch, GA)

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