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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Assessment Validity

In gathering evidence to measure student achievement, classroom teachers, course designers, and administrators have a variety of ways to incorporate validity. Popham (2008) describes three types of validity evidence related to “content, criterion, and construct”.

Content related validity is especially important for classroom teachers in assuring that formative and summative assessments are aligned to curricular aims. Once assessment evidence is determined, instruction should align with assessment through a “backward design” (Wiggins and McTighe, 2005) so that all classroom activities remain on target. Besides classroom teachers, instructional leaders can use “walkthroughs” (Downey, Steffy, English, Frase, and Poston, 2004) as a means of bringing alignment of curriculum, assessment, and instruction to the forefront as well. That is, content related validity involves all stakeholders working together through a community of practice in assuring that the taught curriculum aligns to the written curriculum.

Criterion related validity deals with using assessment to predict future behaviors. Aptitude exams are a good example. When students take the ACT or SAT exam, they are measured on how likely they are to succeed academically in the future. Although assessment experts carefully consider criterion related validity in these exams, “only about 25% of academic success in college is associated with a high school student’s performance on [these exams]” (Popham, 2008, p. 301). Perhaps a reason why it is difficult to use assessment measures to predict future behavior is due to the uncertainty of how people will apply themselves under new circumstances (e.g., attending college, a new school, etc.). Criterion related validity typically involves assessment outside the classroom setting.

Like content related validity, construct related validity entails all stakeholders, classroom teachers particularly taking on an important role. Interventions, differential-population, and related-measures studies (Popham, 2008, pp. 63-65) are three types of content related validity that assessment designers use to hypothesize, test, and infer information and behaviors. For example, assessments should measure a progression of improved student understandings, knowledge, skills, and dispositions (i.e., intervention study). Assessments should be free of bias based on the student’s social-economic status, background, etc. (i.e., differential-population study). And assessments should be consistent between teachers teaching the same level of content (i.e., related-measures study). Like content related validity, the efforts of all stakeholders are needed in order to address construct related validity within a school in order to create assessments that are as accurate and fair.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Distance language learning

I´m interested in collaborating with people who are involved with or interested in the design and implementation of language learning courses that are offered 100% online. I'm particularly interested in the following:

1. Curriculum design
2. Student assessment methods, tools, etc. per skill (i.e., reading, writing, listening, speaking)
3. Teacher assessment methods, tools, etc.
4. Teacher workloads: How many hours of synchronous/asynchronous work is involved?
5. Student workloads: How many hours of synchronous/asynchronous work is involved? How many hours of homework?
6. General pay comparisons to those teachers with f2f/blended courses.
7. Technological infrastructure: platform, social software, language learning software/sites, etc.

Please respond to this post or any of the Nings where I embed this blog if you are interested in such a collaboration. Also, I've created a related Ning if anyone wishes to join.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Language Exchange Reflections

I've included below reflections from my Prope group (first-year pre-service Mexican English language educators) with their American counterparts (MU) who are participating in a language exchange this semester. Language learners pair up and speak for 50 minutes each week on a variety of subjects. Next month, learners will put together projects (i.e., a wiki) that show their level of understanding between American and Mexican cultures.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Assessment

Lately it's been all things assessment: graduate course on assessment (Popham, Kubiszyn and Borich), College Board conference, and pushing for performance tasks through professional development (1, 2).

Focusing on the College Board conference, some reoccurring questions that came up include the following:

  1. What is culture?
  2. How is culture applied in the classroom?
  3. How to assess cultural competency?
In defining culture, it's not surprising that definitions abound. High/low culture, culture with a big and little c, and culture pertaining to food, fairs, beliefs, etc. were all covered. I also saw conferences pertaining to how culture was applied to English literature, graphics design, general English classes, and speaking competencies as part of professional development among teachers. Although many spoke of portfolios (i.e., videos), rubrics, checklists, essays, tests, quizzes, etc. as means of assessing cultural competency, the assessment and instructional process still seemed to be a bit allusive from a practice sense.

As one speaker mentioned, incorporating culture within a classroom takes time, knowledge, and being selective as to the particular aspects of the different cultures available. In Guatemala this is certainly relevant given the mix of cultures that exist:

Mestizo (mixed Amerindian-Spanish - in local Spanish called Ladino) and European 59.4%, K'iche 9.1%, Kaqchikel 8.4%, Mam 7.9%, Q'eqchi 6.3%, other Mayan 8.6%, indigenous non-Mayan 0.2%, other 0.1% (2001 census)

In the central part of Mexico, classes tend to be more homogeneous but teaching culture is equally important. Critical pedagogy certainly plays a role in how teachers approach culture whether taken from a book, from a personal experience from the teacher, and/or from the experiences of the learners.

My short answer to how to implement culture within the classroom is to collaborate with others to see examples of classroom practices. Know the learners well enough to be able to negotiate with them on what aspects of culture they seem more interested in and what aspects they seem to need the most. And finally, use a variety of assessments (i.e., formative and summative) that make it clear on how they are to be evaluated, giving them a level of choice in the process.