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MAA Instructional Practices Guide - Part 4 of 7

We continue our series of reading and working through the MAA Instructional Practices Guide. This is part 4, in which we review pages 49-58 on the basics of assessment.

Emphasis: #

  1. stating high-quality goals for student learning,
  2. providing students frequent informal feedback about their progress toward these goals, and
  3. evaluating student growth and proficiency based on these goals.

Six Principles #

  • Principle 1. Assessment is not a single event but a continuous cycle.
  • Principle 2. Assessment must be an open process.
  • Principle 3. Assessment must promote valid inferences.
  • Principle 4. Assessment that matters should always employ multiple measures of performance.
  • Principle 5. Assessment should measure what is worth learning, not just what is easy to measure.
  • Principle 6. Assessment should support every student’s opportunity to learn important mathematics.

Clear Learning Objectives #

  • The guide’s examples from Number Theory and College Algebra
  • We can discuss our classes

Formative vs. Summative #

  • Summative feedback is measuring the totality of the students’ knowledge
  • Formative feedback gives students a ‘checkup’ designed to help grow.

Formative Feedback ideas #

Defining it by what it is not:

what does a classroom without formative assessment look like? The instructor would have a predetermined plan, both with daily activities and assessments and would never adjust that plan.

  • I found it comforting to see examples provided in the guide:
  • Addition trig instruction after quiz
  • Reacting to graded tests
  • Students presenting their thoughts after interesting question (improper integrals)

Example in Elementary Math Class: #

The final discussion allows the instructor to frame the purpose of the course, and to establish a reference point adopted throughout the course which is to distinguish between “How to …” and “Why …”.

“Practical Tips:” #

  • Formative assessment is about soliciting evidence to adjust teaching with the intention that student learning improves.
  • Summative assessments (as discussed in the next section) can be made formative and may be beneficial for students to value reflection.
  • Think about the formative feedback that you communicate. This reflects your beliefs about what is important in mathematics.
  • Prompt, specific feedback on students’ strengths and weaknesses is crucial to helping students understand how they can improve.
  • Create formative assessments that align with Steen’s principles.