Integrating Assessment and Instruction Using Technology and Performance Assessment

Integrating Assessment and Instruction Using Technology and Performance Assessment

By Steve Ferrara on July 26, 2013

In the School of Thought videos, you never see Victoria, Rey, or Simone responding to multiple-choice items—and their teachers are receiving feedback about student learning and performance the whole time. In this video, the secret to learning while being assessed is embedded performance assessment combined with technology. Technology is a new facilitator of next-generation learning activities because it enables us to embed assessment into instruction more efficiently.

Why is embedding performance assessment into learning activities important? Several studies show that embedding assessment activities that are consistent with learning activities provide ongoing feedback to teachers and students to guide teachers—and that ongoing feedback enables improved student learning. Other research shows that performance assessment encourages teachers to expect more learning from their students, especially mastery of complex reasoning and other higher order thinking skills and, again, improved student learning.

And what is a performance assessment? Performance tasks are the most familiar example. Art portfolios, science lab experiments, and physical performances in sports and the arts are others. You can learn a lot more in our Center’s Framework of Approaches to Performance Assessment, which provides detailed descriptions and examples of seven approaches to performance assessment. We have found key differences between current traditional multiple-choice tests and performance assessments: Performance assessments make student thinking, learning, and performance observable, and students must apply higher-order thinking skills. Embedding performance assessments into learning activities provides direct evidence of what students know and can do with what they know. My colleague Emily dives into the details of the framework in Assessing What Students Can Do, Not Just What They Know.

And how does technology play a role here? Current technologies enable us to implement performance assessment in ways that weren’t possible just a couple of years ago. We can collect information about how well students:

  • Apply higher-order, 21st century skills like collaboration, planning, complex reasoning, and problem solving.
  • Read, view, understand, and respond to multiple sources of non-fiction and literary texts, visual displays, and other digital content.
  • Reason in mathematics about, for example, proportional relationships in grade 3 and model, for example, changes over time using equations and graphs

You can see examples like these in my previous blog, Better Kinds of Tests.

At the Center for NextGen Learning & Assessment we’re capitalizing on existing and future technology to integrate instruction and assessment.


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