Assessment of Student Perceptions of 21st Century Learning
The assessment that I have chosen to analyze was designed for Kindergarten and first grade students to self-assess their learning and learning environment in Saline Area Schools Next Generation classrooms. The Next Generation classrooms utilize 1:1 technology, flexible learning spaces and emphasize effective pedagogy with the development of 21st century skills. The assessment was designed and developed with feedback from the Next Generation classroom teachers, the Instructional Technology Director and myself. This assessment is a series of statements that were read aloud to students while they had a paper copy in front of them. They had to circle the smiley face if they thought that the statement applied to them most of the time, the straight line face if they thought that it sometimes applied to them and the sad face if they felt that the statement never applied to them. The assessment was anonymous in order to promote honesty and objectivity but which classroom each assessment hailed from was identified. The assessment was intended to be administered both mid-year and end of year.
Purpose and Alignment to Professional Standards
The purpose of this assessment was to provide feedback to the Instructional Technology Director, teachers, students and the district about how Next Generation classrooms are incorporating 21st century skills particularly creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication. Standardized assessments do not measure the soft skills like creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication but we know that their development is crucial for students to be successful in the workplace and can potentially have impact on student achievement. In analyzing the data received from this learning environments assessment combined with data from standardized assessments, we could begin to present evidence of their impact on student achievement. It also was designed to allow students to reflect on their learning experiences in the unique learning setting and how it has impacted them as a student this year.
The assessment aligns with the ISTE Standards for Students and the Partnership for 21st Century Learning’s Framework for 21st Century Learning. The goal was to measure students’ perceptions of their opportunities to be creative, critically think, communicate, collaborate, the impact of their flexible learning environment and access to technology for learning. Because the assessment was anonymous, the results will provide feedback on class-wide and program-wide student perceptions on the impact of certain activities on their learning. The way the assessment is currently administered does not provide specific results for each student.
The assessment is formative in nature as “evidence is actually used to adapt the teaching to meet student needs” (Black and Wiliam, 1998, p. 140). The data is compiled and analyzed and the Next Generation teachers meet individually with the Instructional Technology Director to discuss the results. The student data from this soft skills perception assessment is combined with standardized assessment student data to determine correlations particularly in analyzing achievement gaps and student growth. The discussion consists of reflection about positive correlations and highlights things that the teacher is doing well as evident in both sets of data and also addresses areas of improvement and what adjustments and changes that teacher might make to their learning environment and/or instruction to address those areas. The assessment is again administered at the end of the school year and the process is repeated. The information from this assessment combined with the other assessments created for the other grade levels of Next Generation classrooms and the standardized assessment data was also used to inform the Instructional Technology Director about current trends, areas of improvement and correlations between soft skills and academic achievement that are evidential support and data visualization for furthering the efforts of Next Generation programming within the district.
Assumptions Embedded within Assessment
In administering this assessment, we assumed that all students understood the prompts when they were read aloud and could match the written numbers with the spoken number prompt. We also assumed that students clearly understood the meaning of the smiley face, straight face and sad face and what they represented when they selected each. We assumed they could physically circle the response they chose. We assumed that each student would be honest when responding to the prompts. We also assumed that students would not be influenced by peers, the teacher or the assessment administrator when responding to the prompts. Finally, we assumed that this was an appropriate amount of prompts to gain enough information within an appropriate time-frame that did not extend past the attention span of the students.
This assessment could prove difficult for struggling readers as the students needed to have at the very least an ability to correlate what number was said to what was written on the paper. The assessment could definitely be challenging for ELL students as the prompts were written for a general education audience and did not include any picture supporting prompts to help with unfamiliar vocabulary in the statement portion. The smiley faces may also potentially be confusing to an ELL student as the cultural connotations may vary. This assessment also proved difficult for students because it was survey and responses were to be based on opinion and the students struggled with the idea that there was not a right and a wrong answer.
Implications for Assessment Re-design
This assessment echoes some of Lorrie Shepard’s suggested strategies for developing informative and useful assessments (2000, p. 10). It is on-going and administered at multiple points throughout the year, although it could also be administered at the beginning of the school year as a baseline and to provide transparency and set clear expectations for both teachers and students. This assessment provides insight into student perceptions that are used to provide feedback for the teacher. I think that in doing that we are gaining valuable information but we are also potentially overlooking the teacher’s perspective and prior knowledge. If the teacher identifies that they believe that they are really strong at allowing students to use technology to show what they know but the student responses show the opposite perception, being able to see and connect that data has the potential to lead to a more meaningful discussion and reflection on what the underlying cause of that is. A potential improvement could be to create a matching assessment that is designed to gauge teacher perceptions of their own teaching of this material. Currently, we are providing a self-assessment for students but not creating that same self-assessment piece for teachers.
Black, P. & Williams, D. (1998). Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessments. Phi Delta Kappan, 80(2), 139-144.
Casner-Lotto, J., & Barrington, L. (2006). Are They Really Ready to Work? Employers’ Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century US Workforce. Partnership for 21st Century Skills. 1 Massachusetts Avenue NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20001.
International Society for Technology in Education. (2015). Standards for Students . Retrieved 31 May 2015, from http://www.iste.org/standards/ISTE-standards/standards-for-students
Partnership for 21st Century Learning. (2015). Framework for 21st Century Learning – P21. Retrieved 31 May 2015, from http://www.p21.org/our-work/p21-framework
Shepard, L. (2000). The role of assessment in learning culture. Educational Researcher, 29(7), 4-14.