168: Assessing Skills in Application & Performance (2 of 2)



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  1. Human Tableau or Class Modeling
    • Description
      • Students create “living scenes” to model what they know
    • Purpose
      • Students demonstrate what they know by performing it
      • Good for kinesthetic learners
    • Step-by-Step Procedure
      • Select process or image that is important to content
      • Ask yourself what could you and your students learn from reenacting the process or image that couldn’t be learned from pen and pencil assessment
      • Determine how much time students need to plan the model
      • Determine how you will assess performances
      • If you are convinced the activity is still worthwhile, prepare a direction sheet with
        • purpose of assignment
        • procedure
        • points students should address in the Human Tableau’s or Class Models
        • topic and related sub-topics to highlight in the model
        • checklist of key grading criteria
      • Divide class into teams and hand out direction sheet.  Answer questions about assignment.
    • Analysis Steps
      • Use checklist of key features to analyze the reenactments – can note what’s missing and present and quality of each item
      • Consider having performances videotaped
      • Give groups feedback on what if anything they left out and what was especially instructive and clever about their model
    • Extension Ides
      • Have students write out scripts for their models
      • Have students write about their experiences in creating, revising and learning from the Human Tableau or Class Model
    • Pros
      • Students explain, negotiate, clarify and plan while converting what they have learned into a visual or performance team product
      • Can be very entertaining and motivating to learn new material
      • Students get to know each other better while creating it
      • Kinesthetic learners may shine
    • Cons
      • Some students may not take it seriously or refuse to participate
      • No anonymity in responses
      • Time-consuming and laborious
    • Caveats
      • May need to downplay dramatic parts of modeling and emphasize the didactic (instructive) parts of the assessment
      • Students may need a lot of directions if they are not used to collaborating on products like these
  2. Paper or Project Prospectus
    • Description
      • Brief, structured first draft plan for a paper or project
    • Purpose
      • Assess student understanding of assignment logistics and their planning skills
      • Students receive early feedback on their plan prior to devoting a lot of time to it
    • Step-by-Step Procedure
      • Create an assignment sheet that helps students prepare prospectus.
        • For a project:
          • brief project description
          • project site and setting
          • major questions you hope to answer
          • products/results
          • resources needed
          • calendar of component tasks
          • biggest concern about the project
        • For a paper:
          • proposed title
          • purpose
          • major questions you hope to answer
          • work calendar
          • proposed table of contents
          • help / resources needed
          • biggest concern about the paper
        • strive for 1 page in length
      • Create ranked lists of key elements students need to succeed (most to least important) and key elements students will most likely struggle with (most to least difficult)
      • Revise your assignment sheet to reflect your priorities determined from your ranked lists – include and list more important items first
      • Make sure to add questions that will have students unpack elements that you think students will find challenging
      • Hand out prospectus assignment sheets.  Tell students not to commit a lot of work to project until after they get feedback on the prospectus sheets.
    • Analysis Steps
      • Skim responses and circle or check of things that catch your attention.
      • Note the following patterns in their responses
        • which questions received the clearest responses?
        • which question received the muddiest responses?
        • what questions or confusions came up repeatedly?
        • are there groups of students worked on similar projects and may therefore benefit from discussing and comparing their plans?
        • do you need to rethink criteria for evaluating?
        • to what degree are prospectus items related to course goals?
      • Note general suggestions you can make to the class as a whole as a result of what you learned from investigating the questions above
    • Extension Ideas
      • Have students meet in teams to present, discuss and review each other’s prospectuses before turning them in
      • Have students write prospectuses for a “dream project” that relates to the course but there won’t be time to complete
    • Pros
      • Previews students’ ideas and forewarns of their challenges and questions
      • Provides time for timely feedback on large projects
      • Feedback early in the project prevents students from missing the mark
      • Thoughtful planning requirement improves final products
    • Cons
      • Students may aim to please instructors more than learn for themselves
      • Teachers may be overly critical early in the project process
      • Takes a lot of time to plan and assess
      • Some students may need a lot of coaching to complete prospectuses
    • Caveats
      • Reserve prospectuses for major products only
      • If you want students to be creative, don’t specify every part of the assignment
      • Sell prospectus as a plan and living document that can be changed
      • A poor first draft of prospectus may not indicate bad ideas, but more lack of experience of students with planning projects
The Human Tableau or Class Model can get students to review and communicate complex images or processes through teamwork and dynamic reenactments of the material.  These displays can help students think deeply about processes and create memorable displays to remember them.


The Project or Paper Prospectuses can help students plan early drafts of large projects and get early feedback on their ideas.  Getting feedback early in the planning process can help build student confidence in their project plan, help them better organize their plans, and help them create better products.


Preparation Steps
  • Decide whether there are processes, images or products in upcoming processes that could benefit from either the Human Tableau/Class Model or Project Prospectus strategies.
  • Gather / create models and guidelines for selected assessments.
Early Implementation Steps
  • Describe purpose and instructions for assessment and how students will get feedback on assessment.
  • Give students coached work time in class to start assignment.
  • Provide specific content feedback (warm and cool) on the assessment.
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Record or collect good student samples of assessments to use as models for future implementations of these assessments.
  • Use model and critique lessons to co-develop criteria for these assessments.  See this article for ideas on how to do this.
  • Use one of the extensions ideas described above.



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