# Assessment Practice Analysis

### Project Overview

• Publisher: EPS 535 (2014) Assessment for Learning
• Start: Sep 23, 2014
• Due: Oct 14, 2014

#### Project Description

Analyze an assessment practice. This could be a description of a practice in which you are or have been involved, or plans you have to implement an assessment practice, or a case study of an interesting assessment practice someone else has applied and that you would find beneficial to research and analyze. Use as many of the theory concepts defined by members of the group in their published Work 1 as you can, with references and links to the published works of the other course participants.

# The Educational Challenge

Sam is a hard working student in your first period math class. Sometimes he struggles to understand math concepts, but always puts forth his best effort. Today, you are teaching students how to multiply and divide integers (positive and negative numbers). Sam pays close attention in class, but he misinterprets the lesson and incorrectly learns the rules for multiplying integers. When Sam goes home to complete his homework he practices using his misconceptions about integers. The next day Sam turns in his homework and starts the new lesson excited to learn more about integers. Sam has no idea that he incorrectly answered over half of the questions on his homework. With each problem he competes incorrectly Sam become surer that his ill-advised method is correct.

As Educators, we need to provide feedback so students like Sam can be more effective learners. Good teachers know that students need feedback throughout the learning process. Unfortunately it can be difficult to assess student understanding without encroaching on important instructional time. Time spent taking short quizzes or exit slips is time not spent learning new material. Furthermore, these written assessments can be time consuming to grade and do not provide immediate feedback. In Sam's case it will take days before he find out that he did not understand the material.

Electronic Student response systems can help make student feedback more immediate and efficient. If Sam’s teacher used a student response system, Sam could have discovered his mistakes in class. The response system could have alerted Sam and his teacher in time, allowing for Sam to leave class having fully achieved the learning objectives. Student response systems help provide meaningful and timely feedback to insure student success. Response systems can even go beyond casual feedback, and can be used to create adaptive learning environments, generate learning analytics, and increase student engagement.

# Understanding Student Response Clickers

A student response system typically consists of two parts: A teacher control center and student devices. The teacher control center is usually a computer attached to a wireless hub. The computer communicates with the student devises, sending and receiving messages from each student “clicker”. Usually teachers prepare questions for students that are displayed on the teacher screen and projected for the class to see. Students then use their devices to respond to the question. The results are tailed on the screen and displayed in graph or chart. The teacher can then use the results to respond to student misconceptions or build off of students’ answers.

Image from: http://www1.iclicker.com

There are many brands of student response systems available especially from smart board manufactures like Smart Tech, Promethean, and iClicker. Early clickers featured limited one way communication, allowing students to reply to teacher questions by selecting one of five options. This type of early clicker worked well for multiple choice questions. Newer clickers allow for two way interaction and offer a variety of question types.

An example of an early multiple choice iClciker.

In schools were students already have access to devices with a web browser, it is possible to utilize several free web based programs or use a hybrid system. For example, socrative.com allows for a teacher to create a clicker like website for students to visit. When students enter their teacher room number at socrtive.com they are able to respond to teacher questions like they would on a dedicated clicker device.

Socrative allows teachers to poll students using a variety of question types and includes a fun game to increase student engagement. Another site, called Kahoot, is entirely based around game play. Students are assigned points for each correct answer and are shown reminders of their score after each question. The site included sound and allows for teachers to create questions linked to You tube. After each question a leader board is displayed on the teacher screen showing the top scoring students. If only some students have access to web devices, companies like iClciker allow for a mixture of clicker remote and computers to be used in the same session.

Basic clicker functionality is similar to taking a poll with students raising their hands or holding up white boards. However newer systems include special features that go beyond quickly tallying students responses. Some response systems allow for computer adaptive testing. Computer adaptive testing is, “the redesign of psychological and educational measuring instruments for delivery by interactive computers.” (Fisher) Typically an adaptive test means that questions increase or decrease in difficulty depending on student performance.

Some advanced clicked like the promethean activExpression 2, allow for a self paced adaptive mode. In this mode each clicker is sent a series of questions independent from the rest of the class. As soon as a student submits the answer to a question a second question is sent to their device. However, not all students will receive that same questions. It is possible for teachers to create up to nine test levels with thresholds for each level. Once a student gets a designated percentage of level one questions correct they are moved up a level to harder question. Teacher can monitor student level in real time, helping students who are struggling to get beyond a designated level.

Screenshot of socrative teacher dashboard

Almost all student response systems provide data that can be tied into learning analytics. Learning analytics involves the collection and analysis of student data against trend information in order to help provide more customized and effective learning information for each student (Jason Ertz). Most student response systems allow for a data dump, providing data not only about each question, but each student’s performance. Advanced clickers can be assigned to particular students and online systems can be used with student log-ins. By being able to identify each individual student, it is possible to drill down to the individual level and see how students compare to their peers. The data can also be used to determine particular areas of weakness for individual students.

Promethean Activ Expression 2 Clickers with self paced questios

Many “clicker” based computerized systems allow for integration with test generating programs so they can be easily used with target tests to provide instant and pointed feedback. Targeted test are aligned to test specific standards (Megan March). If a target test was taken using a student response system, students could instantly see their score and on some systems, a breakdown of their performance on each standard.

# The Underlying Learning Theory

Student response systems can help support formative and summative assessment as well as differentiate instruction. Student response clickers may seem complex, but once set up they are a highly efficient way to provide students will real time feedback. Because students can see how they are performing in real time they can ask questions and problem solve difficult concepts before they leave class. Teachers can use the instant data to make adjustments to instruction in real time, stopping to explain difficult concepts or speeding up instruction on topics students have mastered. Teachers do not need to wait to see how students performed on their homework the next day to determine if further instruction is needed.

Student response systems can also be used in conjunction with summative assessments in order to provide students with more timely results. Being able to compare summative and formative data to show growth can be helpful evidence for teacher evaluations. Student performance data is becoming increasingly tied to teacher evaluations (Stephanie Kean). Student response systems can help collect student achievement data in a consistent format, enabling teachers to easily collect and report data on student growth.

By linking particular student response clickers to particular students, teachers can quickly identify students that are struggling or outperforming their peers. It is also possible to identify students who need attention on specific topics. By identifying student groups earlier, teachers can chose to create leveled groups in real time or assign particular homework questions based on in class “clicker” performance. These adjustments, are commonly referred to as differentiation. Normally, it takes time for teachers to create grouping for differentiated instruction, but with clickers groupings can be created quickly and efficiently.

Research has shown that clickers increase student achievement by providing instant feedback that increases student engagement and participation (Oswald, 2014). Clickers help meet the needs of different learner's by providing a low stress way to insure student participation (Karen Kate, Carr, and Dozier, 2001). Students who may have otherwise not receive feedback, because of their shy nature or fear of embarrassment in front the class are able to receive valuable feedback using clickers (Zhonggen,2014) . A recent study by Oswald & Rhoten explored the impact of offering incentives based on clicker participation. The study showed that offering any incentive will increase later retention, but particularly if the incentive is dependent on student's performance during class (Oswald, 2014). An interesting study by Bojinova, she showed that clicker use increased undergraduate’s grades by five percentage points! (2013) It makes sense that clickers would provide educational benefits, because clickers are an updated way of providing formative feedback, a well-known educational theory.

# "Clickers" at Work

It is possible to use student response systems to help provide feedback on a variety of tasks. The below flow chart illustrates the different ways clickers can be used in a higher education setting.

From collegestar.org

As a middle school math teacher, I have used Promethean active expression clickers in my classes in order to provide formative assessments in an engaging manner as well as to provide students quick summative assessment scores.

Promethean ActivExpression

Engaging Formative Assessment

The 100% Challenge:

During my lessons I have used clickers as a form of formative assessment by asking students to “click in” answers to specific questions during class. For example, after doing a model problem on the distributive property I asked students to complete two examples, and click in their answer to the second example. I found that the procedure was effective and students were able to quickly submit their answers. I would then go over the results of the question and address student misunderstandings. I felt using the clickers empowered me to make effective instructional decisions in real time. To help increase student engagement I challenged the students to perform well on the clicker results. I counted each question that the class got at least 90% correct as one point. I kept track of points each class earned on the board and encouraged classes to compete for the most clicker points. Points became a point of pride for students and as a result they put special effort into clicker questions and paying attention on days when we used the clickers in class.

Percent Race: Individual Questions

I have also used the individually paced question functionality of the clickers. Instead of telling students that they were taking a quiz, I called the activity a “clicker race”. The goal of the race was for students to individually answer as many questions correctly as possible within the time limit. The winners of the race were determined based on score and then time. We then went over the mostly commonly missed questions as a class. This activity led to increased student motivation and helped guide our instruction.

Efficient Summative Feedback

Clickers can also be used to help grade summative assessments. In one of my history classes, students were taking a multiple choice quiz. I created a self-paced question set on the clickers to match the hard copy of the quiz. After completing the self-paced questions on paper, students entered their answers into the clickers. I set the clickers to tell students their scores on the quiz. Students were pleased to get their results back quickly and I used the data to discuss the commonly missed questions the same day that the students took the quiz.

# Critical Reflection

Many teachers wonder if the set-up for clickers is truly worth the gain. The research and my personal experience shows that student engagement increases when using clickers and as a result their achievement improves as well. I have seen teachers try to collect student responses using student hands or whiteboards, but these methods are not nearly as efficient and effective as clickers. Hands can actually take longer to tally than clickers which can tally responses in a matter of seconds. If teachers carefully pass out clickers so they know what clicker number each students has, they can easily identify students that have not responded. Additionally, hand raise feedback is not recorded for easy analysis. Clicker results can be carefully reviewed at the class or student level. Clickers also support student directed questions and “leveled’ questions. Most importantly, clickers increase student engagement allowing all students to participate and receive feedback. Student response systems make a game out of otherwise boring and tedious formative assessment.

While student response systems are very powerful learning tools they do have some limitations and preconditions. Clear classroom management must be established when using the clickers. Often times students can be excited when using the clickers, but they need to be reminded of proper expectations. Proper professional development must be provided for teachers on the use of the student response system. It is crucial that teacher understand how to fully operate and trouble shoot the clickers in order to avoid confusion and frustration. Some clicker products are much more reliable than others. It is essential that the district carefully research and find the best system for their needs in order to avoid technology failures.

Setting up the clickers can take time. If teachers do not put in the initial time to configure their classroom clickers, the results will be undesirable. Some teachers may find it easier to set up the individual clickers in the system before students arrive to save time. It is also important to remember that cickers are computer graded and offer only simple yes or no feedback. Clickers are not a replacement for more complex and open ended assessment methods such as rubrics (Malgorzata Crane).

# Conclusions and Recommendations

In conclusion, student response systems have the potential to make a significant impact on student learning. Clickers can help teachers and students make adjustments mid-lesson insuring maximum learning. For teachers, clickers offer a plethora of data with little time wasted on manual grading. For students, instant feedback can help improve learning and alert students when they need help. Over the past decade what a student response system exactly is seems to be changing. Instead of remote clickers, students and teachers are using web based platforms. However, changing the “clicker” device, does not change the effectiveness of instant feedback. Clickers can help eliminate the feedback delay and lead to increased student learning and engagement.

I recommend that most teachers test out student response systems in their classroom. The systems are especially well suited for subjects with well-defined correct answers like math, foreign language or science. Clickers are based on the sound educational practice of formative assessment. They have been shown to improve feedback and increase student engagement. Constant formative feedback and improved engagement lead to higher student achievement. Once teachers overcome the challenges of learning a new technical system and setting clear class expectations, students will greatly benefit from using clickers in class. Clickers may not mesh well will all teachers or all subjects, but they are certainly worth giving a try. Their potential benefits should not be overlooked. With new websites taking the place of standalone clicker devices, the barriers to using a student response system are lower than ever before. I suggest that districts provide proper professional development to use existing standalone clickers and web based systems. In a technological and data driven era, clickers are a great way for teachers upgrade their classrooms to a twenty first century learning environment.