Engagement toolkit for performance task writers, reviewers, and evaluators

Author(s): Kokka, Kari; Bae, Soung

Organisation(s): Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (USA); Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (USA)

Date: 2016

Pages: 9 p. + 5 p. + 6 p.

Engaging students in meaningful applications of their knowledge in real world tasks is a key component of deeper learning and 21st Century Skills. In addition, engaging students in assessment tasks serves two equity functions: - It provides greater opportunities for all students to show what they know and can do, particularly those who have been typically less advantaged in school settings. - It enriches the information that teachers have to support the growth and development of each and every one of their students. In the traditional assessment paradigm, however, engagement has not been a goal of testing. Test developers have prioritized issues of bias and accessibility and thus, have created highly decontextualized items that systematically “dis-engage” students. Decontextualized items decrease students' opportunities to create meaning in the task as well as their motivation to cognitively invest in the task, thereby undermining students’ opportunities to adequately demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Innovative assessment designs such as Performance Tasks offer a ripe opportunity to develop tasks that engage all students of diverse backgrounds. Performance Tasks provide opportunities for ‘leveling the playing field’ allowing students to demonstrate their evaluation, synthesis, analysis, and application skills in more open-ended ways than multiple-choice items offer. Paying careful attention to the ways in which student engagement is fostered in a task is likely to affect how students approach and complete the task. The goal of this student engagement toolkit for item writers, task reviewers, and evaluators is to introduce the ways in which dimensions of engagement may be meaningfully incorporated into assessment tasks. With engagement, students are more fully motivated to complete the tasks and perform them well. The kit consists of three tools: 1) Dimensions of Engagement: Definitions and Ways to Incorporate. This tool defines seven engagement dimensions such as collaboration and self-assessment. It provides suggestions and examples for incorporating each dimension into assessment tasks. For each dimension, the tool provides questions to consider and appended performance tasks as examples. 2) Task Development Guidelines with Engagement Considerations for Item Writers. This tool provides specific guidelines for incorporating Engagement Dimensions and the required Task Features into performance tasks to support students’ ability to create meaning and cognitively invest in the task. Engaging tasks generally incorporate at lease three Engagement Dimensions and must include both Task Features: Clear Purpose and Clear Expectations. 3) Review Tool with Engagement Considerations for Item Reviewers/Evaluators. The review tool allows reviewers and evaluators to review tasks to ensure that they are created with engagement in mind for all students. In addition to scoring Engagement Dimensions and Task Features, the tool provides guidelines for evaluation and prompts for suggested modifications.

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