Foundations of Education and Instructional Assessment/Assessment Strategies/Discussions
Author: Morgan Conley
• Readers will be able to define Classroom Discussion and recognize which type of Assessment it falls under.
• Readers will be able to summarize the benefits and limitations to using Classroom Discussions for Assessment purposes.
Using Classroom Discussion For Assessment
By incorporating classroom discussion in regular lesson plans, teachers can assess their students based on personal communication and knowledge of the subject matter. This is a form of formative assessment that takes place during the learning process to help the teacher and student understand the discussed information. Class discussion should be used together with other forms of assessment such as written response, selected response, and performance assessment in order to fully assess students. By presenting a question to a class of students, a teacher can open the classroom for discussion and mediate while the students come up with their own conclusions. “The best discussions occur in classrooms in which the teacher models discussion by being a discussant rather than the originator of all ideas” (Dixon, 2000). Not only raw knowledge can be expressed within these discussions; opinions, thoughts, and questions can be spoken freely with regard to the subject being discussed. Students even respond to others, answer each other’s questions, and present new questions or thoughts based on others responses. Students can share their own experiences pertaining to the discussed topic, which can help others learn because they are given clearer and more practical examples.
Example & Explanation
An example of this would be a high school art teacher mediating a weekly artwork critique of his or her students’ artwork. The teacher can assess not only the artwork, but also each students thoughts about the artwork based on information presented in class. After the students post each of their works at the front of the class, the teacher goes through each piece and opens a class discussion by asking the students what they like and dislike about the artworks. Other matters and questions can be addressed also. For instance, what elements of art were used? What is the most effective part of this piece of work? What could be changed to make the piece stronger? By engaging each student into the discussion the students are applying the information they have been taught in order to support their own opinions and thoughts. Students may also respond to each others comments by adding to or questioning what was said in response.
Sample Criteria Used To Assess Classroom Discussion
Does the student stay on topic?
Does the student show understanding by using subject matter vocabulary appropriately?
Does the student use concepts and vocabulary learned in the classroom to add weight to his/her opinions and ideas?
Does the student contribute his/her ideas and/or build upon the ideas of others?
Is the student respectful to others with respect to differences in opinion?
Does the student provide constructive criticism to others regarding their thoughts, comments, or work?
Benefits Of Using Class Discussion
There are numerous benefits to effective class discussion being used for assessment. Number one being it is simply more interesting, fun, and interactive than simply listening to a teacher lecture or by taking a written test in order to assess knowledge of a subject matter. Classroom discussions encourage the practice of social skills and informal oral communication. This is a much-needed skill later in life. Class discussions encourage learning through active participation, comprehension and listening. Even those students who are less inclined to speak up, benefit from class discussions. For these student, the teacher can ask them questions about their own thoughts or to reword what someone else has already said. Class discussions force students to think, solve problems, listen to others, and even analyze other students ideas. This more informal type of assessment can be given in the form of a class participation grade for instance. Students learn to exercise the use of cognitive skills and furthermore, they back up their thoughts with evidence from past in class teachings. Students feel a stronger sense of confidence because they get to say what they think, instead of being told, this is what you should think. Because the teacher acts as a peer listener, responder, questioner, instead of a lecturer, students feel more in control of their learning and in turn become more motivated.
Limitations Of Using Class Discussion
Though there are many benefits, there are also some limitations to using classroom discussions for assessment. For example, this type of assessment is more suited for higher grade levels where students have the mental capacity to participate in a classroom discussion. Other types of assessment must be used in combination with this type of personal communication assessment in order to thoroughly assess a student’s knowledge and application. Classroom discussion alone is not a good way to thoroughly assess students. Then there is the argument that classroom discussion may not be the best way to evaluate all students. What about the shy, introverted students? In a study done in 2008, while comparing students written responses to that of the same students classroom discussion responses, the study proved that written responses were more thorough and not fully manifested within the environment of classroom discussions (Furtak, Erin Marie; Ruiz-Primo, Maria Araceli, 2008). This statement makes a lot of sense when one considers their own writings. People tend to be more descriptive, logical, and meticulous when writing because they most usually think things through thoroughly and write several drafts before the final draft is complete. Whereas, within a class discussion there is no intense brainstorming, outlining, and drafting over the course of several days. You have minutes at best to think about the topic, form an opinion, and speak your mind. Because of this, students tend to use bias, assumption, and judgement in order to form opinions. But is this such a bad thing? Or does this only make classroom discussions more effective when hearing and discussing the opposing views and diverse perspectives of others?
Dixon, Felicia A. 2000. The Discussion Examination: Making Assessment Match Instructional Strategy. Roeper Review 23 no2 104-8 D
Furtak, Erin Marie; Ruiz-Primo, Maria Araceli. 2008. Science Education v. 92 no. 5 (September 2008) p. 799-824.
Test Your Knowledge & Application
(1) What Form of Assessment does Classroom Discussion fall under?
A. Written Response B. Performance Assessment C. Selected Answer Response D. Personal Communication
(2) Which of the following BEST describes Classroom Discussion?
A. Formal Assessment B. Performance Assessment C. Formative Assessment D. Summative Assessment
(3) Mrs. Williams is a Drawing teacher at a High School. She has all of her students post their latest assignment on the board at the front of the classroom. She then asks her students what they like and dislike about each piece or artwork. She also asks them to comment on what can be changed in order to make each piece stronger. What is this an example of?
A. Lecture B. Formal Assessment C. Class Discussion D. Selected Answer Response
(4) Which of the following answers BEST demonstrates Classroom Discussion?
A. An oral presentation by a student about their favorite artist. B. A teacher begins class by asking his/her students "What is Art?" and various students respond with their opinions. C. A classroom is broken up into groups of 4 students in order to discuss their group project. D. A teacher begins class by lecturing while using a Powerpoint presentation.
(1) D (2) C (3) C (4) B