Thursday, March 29, 2012
Preassessments: Ditch the Discrete Knowledge Questions
I had the opportunity this week to learn with Grant Wiggins regarding Understanding by Design. He mentioned pre-assessment and it's role in supporting the ultimate goals of your unit or course. With this, he said the following: "Pre-assessments should not include discrete knowledge or skills that you are about to teach."
At first glance, this seems crazy. Upon reflection, this makes TOTAL sense.
You should be thinking about students' views, cultures, and breadth of knowledge regarding an understanding. For example, what is students' ability to craft logical arguments? How do students infer and connect information to their previous experiences?
And here's the best part: If the essential question (or questions) that you have identified are really powerful, they can sometimes serve as both the pre-assessment and post-assessment of the course. (It doesn't work for every unit, but it does work if your essential question truly invokes transfer.)
Bad preassessment question: What do you know about Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War?
Good preassessment question: What does loyalty mean to you?
If students already know the discrete skills that you are about to teach, you may STILL have to teach them to transfer that content to unique situations across several disciplines. So... measuring it has limited value.
This was a surprise realization for me. What do you think?
CC Photo Credit: Red Button