EDU 6613: Written Response to Determine Conceptual Understanding

Written response assessment offers a way for teachers to assess both knowledge and reasoning targets. This type of response helps teachers get a clear picture of students’ thinking and conceptual understanding. Chappuis, Stiggins, Chappuis, & Arter (2012) suggest a specific process for developing written response assessments so students’ answers are an accurate reflection of what they know and are able to do. According to Chappuis et al. (2012) written responses should do three things: “set a clear and specific context, indicate what students are to describe or explain, and point the way to an appropriate response without giving away the answer” (p. 177). Setting the context gives students a reference point, including what students need to describe helps them understand the expectation, and pointing them to an appropriate response allows students to understand the criteria that must be met for a complete response. Chappuis et al. (2012) explains, “Written response items should also include information on how they will be evaluated, whether with a list of a number of points or with a rubric” (p. 178).  This not only prepares the student to be successful in providing a complete response but it provides the teacher with a better assessment of what the student knows. If the question is vague, a student may not include certain learning points in his/her answer because he/she does not understand the expectation. The student may have mastered the learning target but his/her response is not representative of what he/she knows. Therefore, the grade given does not accurately assess the student’s achievement and the teacher does not have a clear understanding of what the student actually knows.

In my classroom, reading comprehension questions often require a short answer, written response, or selected response. Students engage in a lot of practice answering these types of questions so it will accurately assess their understanding of the texts we are reading. Students also face these type of assessment response questions on the state standardized test. If students do not have practice with these types of responses, they may not accurately demonstrate their comprehension skills. It is common to hear that teachers are “teaching to the test.” This is frustrating because the content we are teaching is not specific to the test. However, we do prepare and teach kids strategies for taking tests so they can “show what they know.” “Show what you know” is a common phrase when teaching kids how to find evidence to support their answers and write complete responses. This artifact is an example of two general rubrics I use in my classroom. One is for answering selected response questions Selected Response Rubric and the other for written response Written Response Rubric. Chappuis et al. (2012) describe the purpose of these rubrics which include: helping students understand what high quality looks like, using them to give students feedback on practice work, and using them as a self-assessment and peer feedback tool (p. 191). With this type of rubric, we are able to use them for any type of reading response so students understand what is needed to demonstrate understanding of comprehension skills. Students use a rubric for both types of questions (selected response and written response). Originally, I only used a rubric for written response so it was clear to students the expectations for a complete answer. The rubric also includes the process students should follow to ensure that they are using evidence from the text to support their answers in order to demonstrate their ability to apply comprehension strategies. Later, I also created a rubric for selected response because I noticed that when students were offered multiple choice, they quickly filled in a bubble without paying close attention to key words in the question or using the text to support their choice. The rubric has been a great tool for self-assessment as students respond to questions. Students get a lot of practice paying attention to what the question is asking them to explain and include (Ex, “Include two details from the text that support your inference”) and writing complete responses that meet the criteria.

Chappuis et al. (2012) include dialogue from teacher, Kelly Dye, that describes how her students practice extended response and short answer questions. She states, “The students learn how to answer questions by practicing, and by assessing each other’s work. I show strong and weak models of the different answers and we discuss what criteria are needed to achieve the different point values” (p. 191). I think this is a great way to involve students. I find that when I show strong and weak examples and have students assess the work, they can accurately assign point values and provide reasons for the scores they give. The students are then better prepared to assess their own work and provide feedback to their peers. OSPI offers  PowerPoint scoring presentations that teachers can display on a SmartBoard or projector. This link, Scoring Guide Presentations, provides examples of PowerPoint presentations for sample reading passages. The students get to practice scoring the example and then the site displays the point values given so students can compare. This is a great exercise because students are engaged and are able to explain why the example received a certain score.

Please see link for references: Module5References

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This entry was posted in Standard 03. Curriculum, Standard 05. Assessment, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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