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Assessment

Note that many of the learning outcomes for the EMS unit are nontraditional: that is, they focus on students’ developing skills related to doing scientific inquiry and understandings about such inquiry in addition to more traditional content knowledge. Thus, assessment of student achievement of such learning outcomes necessarily involves nontraditional approaches as well.

We have found that it is important in the day to day functioning of the classroom that teachers employ assessment strategies to monitor students’ achievement of norms as well as other learning outcomes – in the absence of a classroom atmosphere that welcomes ideas, it is difficult for students to practice proposing and defending them! While there may be several ways in which to monitor students’ use of norms and/or attainment of learning outcomes, we advocate the regular use of "clip board check lists" (CBCL’s). CBCL’s are literally checklists of norms or learning outcomes (usually a combination of both) that teachers can use to create records of students’ oral work. Generally, these lists are employed by a teacher as she/he moves around within small groups of students who are working independently on some aspect of scientific inquiry. The outcomes from a series of CBCL evaluations (perhaps two or three week’s worth of assessments) can be shared with students in order to help them see what their strengths and weaknesses are and monitor their skill development.

It is also important to note that the CBCL we’ve provided here is only an example. Each teacher should employ this type of assessment (or a comparable one) throughout the course and customize it according to the needs and skills of her/his particular class. Note also that the sample CBCL we’ve shown here is designed to track students’ use of norms as well as their attainment of a particular modeling skill. If you intend to use CBCL’s to track students’ achievement of skills, it is helpful to develop a rubric for use in conjunction with the CBCL similar to the one we’ve provided here.

Finally, in addition to CBCL’s and more traditional assessments (which are described within the individual materials sections), we recommend the use of regular self-assessments so students can monitor their own achievement of particular skills. Again, the self-assessment we’ve provided here is only an example – teachers will probably want to adapt this form according to the particular norms or learning outcomes that their students are focusing on at a given point in the course.