Carolina Biological OSE - July 2024


Forums / Evaluation and Assessment / Prospective Instructor Questions on Assessment

Evaluation and Assessment

Prospective Instructor Questions on Assessment

Author Post
William Struss William Struss 330 Points

I will be student teaching within a year. Once that time arrives, I want to be able to give an assessment which truly measures the objectives I have taught. I have had great difficulty in finding ways to generate questions which accomplish this task. As an instructor: How do you test your assessments before you give them? What is a good method to create questions which measure more than one objective? In the subject of science, what is more important to you in an assessment's questions: quality or quantity?

Gina Langley Gina Langley 1035 Points

I hope you'll enjoy your student teaching, William -- sounds like you'll be a conscientious teacher! I DEFINITELY feel that quality of assessment is far more important and telling than quantity of questions! In developing the questions for an assessment, I usually break down the subject matter first into main points, and determine how much emphasis (importance) should be given to each point. Then I start by taking the most important points, and planning on asking these points in a variety of ways: essay, multiple choice, matching, fill-in, serialization, or whatever. For the multiple choice questions, I simply restate the point, but remove a critical part of the statement. That part becomes one of the answer options, and you then create the "distractor" options by making variations & deviations from that part. Next, go to the essay or matching or some other section of the test, & either choose a term in your statement to be matched to its definition, or ask a short-answer or essay question that will enable a student to let you know whether they've got the gist of what you want them to know. It's time-consuming, but I enjoy making up assessments, and prefer my own to those available with the textbooks you're using. I like to add in a light-hearted distractor or 2 per page, to keep the test from being so "heavy" that it creates more anxiety than the students brought with them, too. Continue with your next most important points, & work down your list, reducing the number of times you "repeat" a topic as the points lose importance. (i.e., the most important point may be queried in multiple choice, matching, diagramming, and essay sections, while the least important points will only appear in one section.) Finally, hone down the test to an appropriate length, give yourself a break, and then take the test yourself as if you were a student. Now go back & create an answer sheet & appropriate weighting of the items based on how difficult you found each section to be. Too wordy, and I can't remember now if I addressed your questions well, but best wishes!

Whitney Aragaki Whitney Aragaki 2490 Points

Hi William, Good job at being so proactive! Love it! I would recommend that you do some backwards mapping, by determining whether your assessment is asking the questions that you would like to know about the content you are teaching. Ensure that you are not throwing *tricks* into it, but having students second-guess themselves, but feel very confident in answering questions. That being said, multiple-choice does not assess learning. Have students write, or orate, what they have learned. Ask thought-provoking questions that extract information that they have learned mixed with prior experience and analysis of ideas. Good luck!

Sandy Gady Sandy Gady 43175 Points

William, it’s great that you are thinking ahead of your student teaching experience and eventual career. There are lots of excellent resources available in terms of assessments, the bottom line is you are going to have to try a variety of things to find out what works best for you. Gina has given you a lot of good advice on how to construct the test, but before you begin construction, you have to identify the standards you are addressing. When you are writing your assessment, it is critical that what you are assessing lines up with the learning targets you have been teaching. Realize that you won’t ever be able to test every single thing. Remember too that there are two basic types of assessments, formative and summative. I value what I see and hear my students do every single day in the classroom discussions, labs and projects. A written assessment will always have its flaws by design. What I see and hear is subjective, but it tells me the story of the growth of the student and can take into account handicapping conditions that I can modify for to give the student the opportunity to show what they know. An invaluable resource to me are Page Keeley’s “Uncovering” series of formative assessment prompts, and Science Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction and Learning,” “ all published by NSTA. I value them so much, I have three sets, one I keep at home, one I keep at school, and one I often loan out to my National Board candidates and friends. There are some teachers that make really long tests that are made up of all types of questions. Mine are short, often focused around one big idea or concept and require students to write versus answer multiple choice or true false. I have pretty much gone to project based learning where students have to demonstrate what they can do. To answer your questions specifically: How do you test your assessments before you give them? Most of the time you don’t. You can ask for input from colleagues, but the best way to find out what works is to give the test, note where the test wasn’t was strong as it could have been, make changes and modifications so the next time your test will more accurately measure what you want it to. What is a good method to create questions which measure more than one objective? I backwards plan. I look at and identify the standards, samples from the state assessment, the curriculum and resources I am teaching from, scaffold the learning and determine a project that is hands-on, involves problem solving and 21st Century Skills, develop a rubric and then present the opportunity aka assessment to the students. What I have found in 21 years of teaching, is once given basic parameters, students almost always come up with a better project than I could have given In the subject of science, what is more important to you in an assessment's questions: quality or quantity? Always quality. Good luck as you prepare for your student teaching. Let us know how it goes.

Dear William It’s a very interesting and good experience the student – teaching, because offer great opportunity to exchange information, knowledge. The questions that you make can produce you a indefinitely numbers of answer but I can say that one of the most important have to do with innovation, combination, knowledge of the group, knowledge of the study area, objective and a result desire. Best Regards Fatima K. Hosein

Pamela Auburn Pamela Auburn 68625 Points


Those are great resources on formative assessment. Someone recently sent me this blog post by Grant Wiggins on formative assessment
I especially like that he says one need such a check every few minutes
Your text to link here...

Pamela Auburn Pamela Auburn 68625 Points

I just came across this video on the use of a 'stop light' technique that give feedback on learning after each class
Daily Lesson Assessment

Post Reply

Forum content is subject to the same rules as NSTA List Serves. Rules and disclaimers