Foundations of Education and Instructional Assessment/Performance Assessment and Rubrics/Secondary Social Studies

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Performance Assessment in the Fields of Social Studies and History

Learning Targets[edit | edit source]

* Understand traditional methods of assessment

* Understand the goal and advantages of performance assessment

* Understand how performance assessments can be used to teach Social Studies.

Traditional Assessment

Traditional assessment is the evaluation of student learning using traditional methods of achievement collection. Most traditional assessments are developed to determine a students understanding and recollection of events after the instruction has been delivered. Typical traditional assessment tools consist of fill-in-the-blanks, true-false, multiple-choice tests, matching and other similar mechanisms. Students typically are required to select an answer or recall information to complete the assessment. These tests may be standardized, such as the Stanford 10, NAEP, Benchmark, AP and SAT tests as well as the Virginia SOLS. Traditional assessment tests do not, by definition need to be as structured or inflexible as these more familiar state and national tests. Teachers can create their own evaluation tools that follow the traditional methods of assessment.

"Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government;... whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them right."—Thomas Jefferson

The driving force behind traditional assessment is the theory that the primary goal of schools is to help shape and develop productive citizens. This theory is used to formulate objectives whose goal is to develop historically literate individuals who are able to identify historical figures, events and dates. Many traditions assessment tools do not focus on the subject of history. The Stanford 10 is a traditional assessment tool that focuses on Reading vocabulary and comprehension, data analysis and math problem solving. SAT scores also focus on math, reading, and writing fundamentals. The NAEP, however is a national assessment that focuses not only on math, reading and science; but also civics and US history. A copy of the recent US history results can be found at: The Virginia Standards of Learning have elements of history and in 4th grade Virginia history is assessed.

Performance Assessment: Goals and Advantages

Performance assessments, which are also often called "authentic assessments", provide for a teacher to evaluate knowledge through the use of engaging activities. Students are not forced to complete multiple choice questions, instead they are asked to construct, record, display or explore topics through presentations and writing. Those instructors who use performance assessments require students to not only memorize information, but more importantly encourages them to synthesize knowledge through data collection, reflection and constructive assignments. Students are asked to analyze and explain historical events through research and the development of journals, projects, and other demonstrable means.

Students are often asked to use their current knowledge to come up with theories or solutions to hypothetical situations. Typical questions may include, "How would life in the South after the Civil War been different if President Abraham Lincoln had survived his assassination?" The students may be asked to create a journal as a southerner in the years following the Civil War under President Lincoln's reconstruction policies. An Instructor may ask the students, "How did Pasteur and Lister change how doctors performed medicine?" The students could create a play of a debate between doctors of the 18th century and late 19th century.

Often performance assessments include extended tasks and assignments that require ongoing research and collection of data that is carried out over several hours or weeks. This form of assessment is widely used to develop a students ability to synthesize information into creative writing assignments. Journals and portfolios are often created by the students to demonstrate their learning acquisition as well as allowing for presentations to their classmates.

Where traditional assessments may ask multiple choice questions about a particular subject matter, performance assessments allow teachers to assess not only acquired knowledge, but also the ability of students to create brochures, oral presentations and essays. Unlike traditional assessment, students are fully aware of how they will be assessed and what they need to accomplish to be successful. This allows the students to judge their own work as they create their projects. Performance assessments are based on the particular curricula of a specific school system and classroom. Unlike traditional assessment whose tests are created by anonymous administrators and test producers, performance assessments are created and developed by the teachers in the classroom. Performance assessments allow for scaffolding of knowledge and not simply learning random facts without context.

Instructors that use performance assessments need to create a rubric with which to judge the students successful completion of the assignments. One of the criticisms of performance assessments is the random nature of the grading. Traditional assessments are often created and graded by national or state organizations. To effectively use performance assessments the rubric needs to be created, explained to the students, and adhered to during the grading process. Follow the following link to understand more about the role of the rubric in performance assessments.

"I have a conviction that education is important to the preservation of our republican government, and that it is also essential to its protection against foreign power."—Thomas Jefferson

Performance Assessments in the Social Studies Classroom

Performance assessments can easily be incorporated into history and social studies classes. Unlike math and science courses writing and presentation assignments are easily interwoven into the curriculum. Some examples of how one might use performance assessments in an American history course might include splitting the students into groups. Each group would be given the names of eight US Presidents. The group would be given the opportunity to do independent research through the computer lab and library to determine the success of their assigned Presidents. The rubric for assessment would clarify to the students that they should judge each President on specific qualities such as accomplishments, crisis management, political Skill, appointments, character and integrity. With this information the students would rate their eight Presidents and create a presentation to deliver explaining how they came to their conclusions. Through this activity the students escape simply know which President was the 12th or 14th, or which President was in power during war. The students add context and synthesis to simple memorization requirements. The students will learn how to create presentations, respect differing opinions, and determine how to narrow, edit and refine their findings to support their opinions. Each student in the class will learn more through the other classmates research then they would learn by memorizing book information alone.

Another example of performance assessment in American history would be to give the students the opportunity to describe how North America and the World would have been different if the South would have won the Civil War. The essay and presentation would be judged on a rubric of content, clarity, continuity, creativity, and correct use of grammar. This activity would promote the research skills of the students as well as their English writing proficiency.

If you give yourself a moment you could probably come up with hundreds of ways to use performance assessments in the classroom. These assessments take a little more time in that you must create a rubric and explain the requirements to the class, but these assessments allow the students to develop their research, writing and presentation skills. This benefits them much more than simply developing multiple choice and fill in the blank test taking skills.

"If the children are untaught, their ignorance and vices will in future life cost us much dearer in their consequences than it would have done in their correction by a good education."—Thomas Jefferson

Multiple Choice Questions[edit | edit source]

1. Traditional Assessments are most frequently:

  a. based on tasks to find an answer through activity and analysis.
  b. multiple choice.
  c. in class question and answer.
  d. based on portfolios and writings of students.

2. How can performance assessment be used in a classroom setting?

  a. Have students take a final exam at the end of the quarter.
  b. through classroom discussion.
  c. by using a pop quiz to probe for knowledge.
  d. have students keep a journal with reflections of things they have learned.

3. What teacher created item is necessary when using performance assessments?.

  a. a large multiple choice test.
  b. a rubric for grading.
  c. a fun and interesting matching quiz.
  d. a 750 word essay assignment.

4. A language arts teacher asks to collaborate with you on a history lesson. What performance assessment task could you apply.

  a. have the students read the teacher's notes to the class.  
  b. a quiz on proper vocabulary and syntax.
  c. place students in reading groups to produce a journal describing the Battle of Hampton Roads from a sailors perspective.
  d. have students read the history book and create a proper outline.

Answers 1.B 2.D 3.B 4.C

References[edit | edit source]

Boyd, Julian, Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. 6 (Columbia, Mo., 1966), pp. 359–360. Retrieved 1/30/2008,

Ford, Paul Leicester, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (FE) 10 Vols., New York, 1892–99, [1/30/2008]

Brown, Janet; Shavelson, Richard. New ways to measure what students know and can do. (performance assessment) Science for Everyone: It's in Your Hands Instructor (1990) March 1, 1994 COPYRIGHT 1994 Scholastic, Inc.

Brown, Janet H.; Shavelson, Richard J. Does your testing match your teaching style? Instructor (1990) September 1, 1994 COPYRIGHT 1994 Scholastic, Inc.

REEVES, DOUGLAS B.; Defending Performance Assessments Without Being Defensive. School Administrator, June 1, 1997 COPYRIGHT 1997 American Association of School Administrators.

Garrido, Jose Luis Garcia. European Education, vol. 34, no. 3, Fall 2002, pp. 42–60.

Locke, John. Some Thoughts Concerning Education. Vol. XXXVII, Part 1. The Harvard Classics. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1909–14;, 2001. [01/30/2008].

Michele Erina Doyle and Mark K. Smith (2007) ‘Jean-Jacques Rousseau on education’, the encyclopaedia of informal education, Last update: 12/28/07

Monroe, Will S. (1900) Short History of Performance Assessment: Lessons Learned, Journal article by George F. Madaus, Laura M. O'Dwyer; Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 80, 1999 (2003), retrieved 1/30/2008

Suzanne, Mary, Hallie, Bert, and Michelle. [1/30/2008]