Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Application of Learning

“Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember. 
Involve me and I learn.” 
- Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was a man ahead of his time in many ways, including education. The importance of applying learning that he speaks in the oft-cited quote above is one of the key themes of the Common Core. The Common Core asks not only have students mastered certain skills, but also if they can they apply them. Have they reached higher depth of knowledge? Can they think critically about information that is available and decide on a course of action? This emphasis has lead to recognition that assessments should become broader, more rigorous, and more relevant. Towards that end, new assessment items types have been developed that provide different types of tasks for students to complete. There has also been an increase in the use of project-based assessment requiring students to complete an involved piece of work with many steps. 

New types of items provide students with new novel and engaging tasks. Students might be asked to actually identify specific passages from a text that support a particular statement. They might be asked to sort items by a principle such as common cellular structure. These sorts of items make for an engaging and relevant evaluation of the skill being assessed. In May ATI released a series of short formative assessments showcasing several of these new types of Technology Enhanced Items. The assessments provided an opportunity to expose students to the types of tasks required by these items and to gain familiarity with what will be required of them when they take on the new state tests.

Shortly ATI will be releasing Dialogs containing these assessment items. Dialogs are instructional tools that provide teachers with the capability to link instructional content with assessment items.  The environment provided within dialogs allows districts to build project-based instruction and assessments that will afford districts the opportunity to provide students with rich instructional content that produces relevant assessment data about student learning. 

This fall ATI will be releasing units containing descriptions of some of the new item types and their use. Included in the units will be sample dialogs that can be readily edited to provide students with a chance to experience how the items work and the tasks that they require. They will also include sample performance-based assessments. We look forward to receiving feedback on their use.

John R. Bergan, Ph.D.
Vice President Research and Development

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