170: Assessing Academic Behaviors & Skills (2 of 2)





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  1. Process Analysis
    • Description
      • Students record the steps they take to carry out an assignment and comment on any conclusions they draw about their approaches to the task.
    • Purpose
      • Gathers explicit detailed information on the steps students take to complete an assignment
      • Can help students pinpoint issues in how they work and help them improve on these
      • Teachers can learn what steps in assignments are giving students the most trouble
      • Good for noticing and improving habits that relate to completing routine assignments
    • Step-by-Step Procedure
      • Select an assignment that meets these criteria
        • complex enough to warrant recording steps in a Process Analysis
        • you are genuinely interested in how students work through it
        • focusing on this activity will teach students lessons that can apply in future similar assignments
      • Describe what students will record:
        • steps to complete an assignment &
        • time spent on each step
      • Give students access to example Process Analysis records to show them how to record steps.
      • Assign a task to be logged with the Process Analysis and direct students to complete the task along with the associated Process Analysis
      • Collect Process Analysis along with assignment.
    • Analysis Steps
      • Read assignments first and grade without looking at Process Analyses.
      • In Process Analyses
        • assess overall work schemes for clarity and explicitness
        • the number of steps taken
        • effectiveness of each step
        • similarities & differences among students’ analyses in number, content, and order of steps
        • identify patterns between process steps and levels of performance on assignment
    • Extension Ideas
      • To make them easier to analyze, divide class into groups and stagger when each group completes Process Analyses
      • Have students use Process Analyses to compare notes on how they worked
      • Direct students to focus on only one stage of the process in their discussions (beginning, middle or end)
      • Ask students to focus on one step they would like to add or improve in their next assignment.
    • Pros
      • Focus on process is transferable to other assignments
      • Focus on steps allows students to break down, add, improve specific steps in order to improve overall process
      • Teachers can see if students are implementing steps they are taught to take to complete assignments such as term papers
      • Can uncover productive strategies that can be shared among students
    • Cons
      • Students may resist or struggle to complete the Process Analysis
      • Teachers may find that quality of processes do not always correlate with quality of end products
      • Time consuming to analyze these.  (Note – if these are submitted via Google form, can use pivot tables, sorting, and conditional formatting to speed through analyses of these)
    • Caveats
      • Don’t make process to laborious.  Ask for an outline of steps taken, not a narrative.
      • May need to model how to document steps for students who aren’t used to this.
      • Student who could benefit most from this analysis may be the most unwilling to do it.
  2. Diagnostic Learning Logs
    • Description
      • Students maintain a log for assignments and learning activities.  After learning activities they make lists of key points learned and things that were unclear.  For assignments, they lists problems encountered or errors made and successful responses.
    • Purpose
      • Students identify their own strengths and weaknesses as learners
      • Students can diagnose and suggest and test remedies for their learning difficulties
      • Students develop skills needed to become independent learners
      • Teachers learn more about students strengths and weaknesses that can improve their coaching of students through difficulties
    • Step-by-Step Procedure
      • Explain to students that they will logging information about their academic successes and struggles and the benefits of being aware of these.  The main benefit is that the greater awareness can also lead to better ideas to improve upon processes used to overcome struggles.
      • Provide them with a simple format.  See below:
        • After a learning session:
          • List the main points you learn from the session.  Give examples where possible.
          • List points that are unclear to you.  Give examples where possible.
          • Write a few questions that relate to the unclear points.
        • Homework assignment:
          • Briefly describe the assignment.  What is it about?
          • Give 2 examples of successful responses. What made them successful?
          • Give 1-2 examples of less successful responses.  What errors or ommissions did you make?
          • The next time you confront a similar situation what could you do to increase your learning?
    • Analysis Steps
      • Can categorize assessment using
        • Don’t identify successful and unsuccessful responses
        • Identifies successes and struggles but does not diagnose them.
        • Identifies and diagnoses, but doesn’t offer solutions
        • Identifies, diagnoses and offers solutions
      • Record types of questions students are raising and types of problems they identify
      • What is range of responses students use to describe their own learning?
    • Extension Ideas
      • To make them easier to analyze, divide class into groups and stagger when each group completes the logs
      • Ask students to focus logs on the learning of specific key topics
    • Pros
      • Develop more independent, active, self-reflective learners
      • Protocol can be transferred to any academic situation
      • Provides teachers with assessable, classifiable data on students’ metacognition
      • Can provide insights that improve student learning
    • Cons
      • Requires a lot of time and effort from teachers and students
      • Attention to failures may demoralize students.  Can counteract this by teaching students about the power of struggle
    • Caveats
      • Students may need coaching to complete this well
      • Encourage students to capitalize on their strengths as well as improve upon their weaknesses


Both the Process Analysis and the Diagnostic Learning Log make students more aware of the steps they are taking to learn.  The Process Analysis alerts students to the steps they take to complete assignments.  Noticing these steps can help students identify strengths to reinforce and gaps to fix in order to improve overall learning processes.  The Diagnostic Learning Log makes students aware of what they understand and what they don’t and encourages them to take steps to work through their academic difficulties.


Preparation Steps
  • Determine if there are upcoming tasks or activities that could benefit from the use of a Process Analysis or Diagnostic Learning Tool
  • Design the form that will gather the data related to the selected strategy.  See above for examples.
  • Create sample completed forms that will be used to model the selected strategy
Early Implementation Steps
  • Talk through a sample completed form in order to show students how to complete it and how to think through responses in the form.
  • Explain the purpose of gathering and analyzing the data in the strategy.
  • Analyze the data in order to identify interesting patterns and strategies.  (Note:  Gathering data through Google forms can facilitate this data analysis due to functions such as sorting, conditional formatting, averaging, and pivot tabling).
  • Share key insights that go with the analysis of the data gathered by the selective strategy.
  • Give students time in class to compare their observations with other students and to discuss possible strategies to try in the future.
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Have students do the strategy more than once in order to see if their learning processes are improving
  • Have students set a reinforcement and an improvement goal – reinforce a strength and improve upon a weakness.
  • Try one of the extensions described above.
  • Create character learning targets that describe key learning processes.  Let students use analyses to gather evidence of progress towards these learning targets.



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