2016 Summer Instruction Camp Day 1

The theme this year is Authentic Assessment. We chose this theme because it has come up more than once in camp feedback and it aligns with our program goals.

The Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education prompts questions about what learners will need to know, experience, and do to demonstrate their increased understanding as they progress from novice to expert in the scholarly journey. How can you know if your assessment allows students to demonstrate their thinking? How do you achieve this goal in a one-shot instructional session? How might you collaborate with faculty to do this? We will explore these questions during the three days of camp.

Day 1: Presentation by Barbara Bales, Associate Professor in Curriculum & Instruction at UWM School of Education
Day 2: Rubric evaluation of common assessment strategies
Day 3: Collaboratively create a student learning assessment instrument

Here is my summary of Day 1.
Barbara Bales, Associate Professor in Curriculum & Instruction at UWM School of Education, introduced us to the concept of Metacognitive Sequencing as an assessment strategy that helps the learner reflect on what they know and what they need to know so that their own learning becomes more visible to them. The concept is built on the premise that all learning is constructed. As teachers we have to start with where the learner is at. Sequencing is used frequently in instructional design as a strategy for releasing content at the appropriate time to the learner. In this more familiar application the teacher controls the sequence or wields the sequence in order to maximize learning. The Metacognitive Sequencing as illustrated in the handout prepared by Dr. Bales elicits the learner to stage or sequence what, when, and how they want to learn. In this use the learner takes control over their learning path and destination in order to achieve personal goals. The assessment goal is to trigger in students the process of diving deeper into one’s learning and thinking about what one’s next steps should be or how one will integrate it into their thinking or behavior. One major limitation to this model is students may not know what they don’t know. A teacher then might need to problematize the content or skills before the metacognitive sequencing can occur.

Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy (source:PCSelemliteracy)

We then shifted to explore how assessment of learning directs the content of instruction. When thinking about assessment you first need to think about the learning outcome. A learning outcome needs to start with a VERB. Dr. Bales efficiently introduced a simply method for identifying learning outcomes. Campers divided into six groups and each group was assigned one of the six frames from the Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education. Our task was to identify the 2 or 3 higher (or highest) order verbs in the frame. These verbs should describe the crux of the frame. Here is an example.

Scholarship as Conversation
-Articulate the conversation
—Map the conversation
—–Distinguish different perspectives
Our next challenge was to design a learning activity that would incorporate an assessment for each of the learning outcomes we identified. Dr. Bales compared activity based assessments to traditional, or item, based assessments as presented in an article by  John T. Behrens and Kristen E. DiCerbo, Technological Implications for Assessment Ecosystems: Opportunities for Digital Technology to Advance Assessment. In activity based assessments there are multiple ways to accomplish a process.
Item vs Activity Paradigm (from article)
Items pose questions —- Activities request action
Items have answers —- Activities have features
Items indicate correctness —- Activities provide attributes
Items provide focused information —- Activities provide multidimensional information
With this in mind groups were asked to identify something we do very well in class or with a student (setting) then  use the 2-3 verbs we identified in our first group task to design a learning assessment activity. Here is an example of an activity designed by one of the groups.
Authority Is Constructed and Contextual
Overall verbs: Assess, Integrate
Knowledge: Identify
Dispositional: Challenge, Engage
Hierarchy: Identify, Assess, Challenge
Scenario: Group work
1. Each group is tasked to find a source on a given topic.
2. Then, as a class, we would identify the types of sources found and rank the specific sources (not the types of sources) based on their usefulness.
3. Lastly, the class would list/identify potential weaknesses and strengths of the sources.
The first day of camp introduced campers to a new idea, metacognitive sequencing, gave them a chance to align their pedagogy with the framework, and demonstrate that assessment is most authentic when it aligns with student learning. We assess in order to showcase what students are learning.

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