Sunday, December 23, 2012

Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)

 Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)

Unfortunate is the moment when teachers discover that what our students have learned is not at all what we believed we were teaching. In looking for an effective way of evaluating learning throughout the semester, I found some research from Thomas A. Angelo and K. Patricia Cross, Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers, describing strategies that college teachers had found useful and that could be used as representations for asking the essential but often indefinable questions "What are your students learning?" and its result, "How effectively are you teaching?"

I attempted an activity that stated by the authors, can help teachers to analyze objectively on what transpires in the classroom, and to guide students in a self-analysis of their own learning processes.

I created and handed out a specific questionnaire (What did you learn today) entitled, “Knowledge, Skills and Behavior” to accurately gauge individual's enactment of the day’s lesson plans, and provide me a reasonable estimate of class performance when compared to one another. I used this to gauge their leaning and gave verbal directions to write down and communicate with classmates, “what did you learn today” and writing and a discussion incurred with the students. The form had 1 – 10 listed on the form.

What I was looking for was the following:

  • 1.     Did they write down the same process or procedures they competed in the day’s lesson, to check for understanding?

  • 2.     Did the student use current industry terminology in a proper method?

  • 3.     Did they complete anything meaningful in the day’s lab after hearing the lecture, seeing my demonstration and preforming the task themselves?

  • 4.     Did they verbalize the same process or procedures they competed in the day’s lesson, to check for understanding?

This feedback received was useful to me, the instructor to realize if the student absorbed the basic concepts of learning that day’s lesson and then can tie it into the unit’s lesson or the bigger picture for the Print for Production course.

Case Study:

In a Graphic Design, Print for Production course after instructing and demonstrating to the students twice on color balancing to their own profile on a Mac desktop, I ask them to write down what they had learned or just preformed.

I was looking for specific terminology and/or tasks to answer the following questions:

  • 1.     Did the student recall learning a specific task that they would have to use in the Graphic Design field and for the class project outputs.
  • 2.     Could they perform the task from memory by jotting down some meaningful words to recall what they had just completed?
  • 3.     Could they verbalize the task from memory by speaking with a classmate using meaningful words to recall what they had just completed?

I wanted to know how many times the student would have to listen and preform the task to learn how to color balance their Mac computer, as well as save the setting to their own preferences profile upon logging in.

Analyzed the Data Results:

I was surprised that on the first day I handed out the entitled “Knowledge, Skills and Behavior” form one student wrote down tasks and terminology that they had been taught from a previous lesson. 
I had terms written down such as, moiré (pronounced "more-ray") pattern (this is sometimes seen in printed materials, more specifically a Moiré patterns come’s about when two halftone screen patterns come into conflict — something that both designers and printers want to avoid.) I had shown to this to my student’s a week prior from a Hagar comic strip I had pre-pressed while working in the printing field. I showed an excellent example used for training within a printing plant, on a newsprint color coated stock to be used for the pressman to proof their printing and to match color. While the student could recall a term it was neither the specific term(s) nor task that I had discussed for the days lesson. It did prove that she had learned a term and understood the concern of a Moiré pattern, as she verbally discussed this to the class after writing it down, but it was a past experience of learning.

Other results from the same students wrote very specifically on what they had learned for the day and could recall the day’s events with clarity. They used the term “color balance” (A color balance is used to successfully and accurately adjust a monitor screen for color printing; these adjustments must take place to properly calibrated equipment for more accurate color printing to avoid color casting on output to a hard copy, what you see in analog on the screen should match to the digital print.) but did not offer anything greater to elaborate on the topic, they knew a term but could they recall the step-by-step process?

Overall I find these non-grade Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) methods useful to me as an instructor to gauge the students learning and to generate a conversation on what they had covered in the day’s classroom experience. I would reword the document to include a step-by-step process question to entice a recall on the events and would also verbally explain twice to the student that this is a non graded process to generate conversation that includes writing down ideas and terms learned in the classroom. I do know this alarmed one student, as this student may have never experienced reflection on what they had just learned in the classroom in a discussion and writing format.

  • Note: I followed, Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers, Cross and Angelo recommendations that this strategy of classroom assessment technique be ungraded as this technique seem to work best when they are viewed as a source of feedback and not as a system for evaluating student performance.

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