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Session 3: Assessment Practical CPD activities

Index:
P. 1 Activity 1: Giving effective feedback P. 3 Activity 2: Classroom questioning and dialogue P. 5 Activity 3: Self- and Peer-assessment

Activity 1: Giving effective feedback
Small group discussions
1. Some topics on feedback for small group discussions • In your subject, what kinds of information or material would be appropriate to give feedback on? Make a list of ways to generate work from learners on which you can give feedback in your teaching situation Is it possible to give unhelpful feedback? What kinds of feedback should be avoided? Why? How can you make feedback as useful as possible? How can you ensure that feedback you give is taken on board by the learner and actually does help them improve their work? Do learners always believe their teachers’ feedback? In what circumstances might they not? What are the issues here? How can teachers build trust so that feedback is believed? Can anyone else give feedback besides the teacher? What might be the advantages of this at times? Research suggests that feedback in the form of grades is unhelpful, and may even demotivate learners. Think of reasons why this might be the case How can feedback be built into lesson planning?

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What is particularly useful about verbal feedback? What are the strengths of written feedback, and marking of work?

2. Ask groups to try and agree on answers to some of these questions, and record them on a flipchart. If they can’t agree, record this too. 3. After 15 minutes of small group discussions, get each group to present their flipchart to the whole group. 4. Use the presentations to compare responses, especially where there are differences, or unresolved questions 5. Share the following principles for effective feedback: • Stress the importance of authenticity in giving feedback: tell the truth, but be constructive so learners can see how they can improve their work Relate feedback to learning goals: the teacher’s task is to help the learner see how they can bridge the gap between where they are now and where they want to be. The learner’s goals are likely to go beyond the explicit aims of the course or qualification they are following Emphasise that feedback must be manageable – it may be best not to comment on everything, only the most important things Stress the importance of thinking: what can the learner do with this feedback? Will it help them improve their work in ways that they can see? Encourage discussion about balancing the possible negative effects of giving grades, which may be unavoidable in some work situations, with constructive qualitative feedback

Get participants to make a note of the three most important points they have learned from this activity, and how it will make a difference to their teaching in the future.

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Activity 2: Classroom questioning and dialogue
Small group discussions
1. Some topics on questioning for small group discussion: • • • • • • • Why ask questions in a class? Make a list of different types of questions that might be asked in a class Give examples of each type What is the specific purpose of each type of question? Who asks questions? How long should teachers wait after asking questions? Should questions be directed to individual learners, or to the group as a whole? Why? How can learners’ questions be used to promote learning for the whole group? How can unconfident learners be encouraged to ask questions? How should questions NOT be answered? Make a list of don’ts How can questioning be built into lesson planning?

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2. Ask groups to try and agree on answers to some of these questions, and record them on a flipchart. If they can’t agree, record this too. 3. After 15 minutes of small group discussions, get each group to present their flipchart to the whole group. • Use the presentations to compare responses, especially where there are differences, or unresolved questions Stress the importance of teachers developing a continually expanding repertoire of classroom questions, through discussion with colleagues, and continually trying them out in their classes Stress the importance of ensuring that all learners in the group are asked questions, not just the confident ones.

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Point out how teachers can generate classroom discussions by focussing on disagreements or incorrect responses, but without necessarily providing a more ‘correct’ response: for example: ‘that’s very interesting Sam. Diane, what do you think about Sam’s answer?’

4. Get participants to make a note of the three most important points they have learned from this activity, and how it will make a difference to their teaching in the future.

Final points on classroom questioning
• Classroom questioning by the teacher, and encouraging learners to ask questions to further their learning, are critical elements of effective teaching. Some kinds of questions support learning more than others Classrooms full of talk are more likely to be rich learning environments than silent ones. Useful kinds of talk include dialogue between teacher and learners and between learners, questions from learners and from the teacher, arguments and group discussion as part of collaborative tasks One of the teachers’ main roles is to build and sustain an atmosphere in the class that supports learner engagement in challenging learning activities, including asking questions, expressing uncertainty, collaborative work with other learners, and self- and peer-assessment. This may not be easy, particularly if learners are lacking in confidence or have negative feelings about education and learning. Teachers need to work hard continuously to build and sustain trust and openness within the group While careful lesson planning is vital, it is important that plans can respond to learners’ learning needs. Learners are more likely to be active agents of their own learning if they see that what they do and say makes a difference to what the teacher does Teachers need continuously to maintain and develop their communication skills and practices, through developmental discussions with colleagues and others. The way the teacher talks and behaves in the classroom is a key way in which to generate an atmosphere that supports effective learning.

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Activity 3: Self- and Peer-evaluation
Activities on self- and peer-evaluation
1. Some topics on self- and peer-assessment for small group discussions • Many teachers are nervous about getting learners to evaluate their own or others’ work. Why does care need to be taken in using this approach? How can problems be avoided? Why is it important for learners to be able to evaluate their success in using their new skills and knowledge in the real world? What specific issues may need to be included in order that learners can take part in evaluation processes?

1. In small groups, get participants to read the Case Study (see resources) and then have a go at the following tasks: • Devise an activity that would require learners to collaborate in setting assessment criteria for their own course Discuss how to use examples of good, bad or excellent work to involve learners in thinking about how to complete a specific task. Devise an activity that would help learners to feel comfortable about commenting on each other’s work. How would you help learners to begin to understand and/or use the language of assessment?

2. Ask groups to try and agree on answers to some of these questions, and record them on a flipchart. If they can’t agree, record this too. 3. After sufficient time to do some of these activities, get each group to present their flipchart to the whole group. 4. Use the presentations to compare responses, especially where there are differences, or unresolved questions

Final points on self- and peer-evaluation
• Stress that developing confidence in self- and peer-assessment in the use of newly learned skills and knowledge is an essential element of being able to use those skills fluently and confidently in real-life situations outside the course

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Emphasise that self- and peer-assessment activities need to be carefully planned, and integrated into programmes of learning and schemes of work It is often helpful to design activities as games involving lots of talk, and an element of competition, as long as this remains light-hearted and supports group interaction and confidence.

For example, classes can be divided for classroom activities into small groups, each working separately and collaboratively on practical tasks such as agreeing on appropriate assessment criteria, or the best approach to addressing a particular complex problem relevant to the subject of study. After a set time, the groups have to present their findings to the whole class. Other members of the class interrogate their presentations, and then the whole group discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each presentation. Possibly scoring could be involved, rather as in a TV game show. The teacher’s input in this scenario is less as the provider of information and more that of chairing a debate. Friendly rivalry and competition, managed carefully by the teacher, can make this process entertaining and highly motivational, as well as providing an incentive to carry out the task well.

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