Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.
Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience.
Teachers are members of learning communities.
To promote understanding, explicit instruction in metacognition should be integrated into the curriculum. Thus, instruction should create tasks and conditions under which student thinking can be revealed so that students, with their teachers, can review, assess, and reflect upon what they have learned and how. Additionally, teachers should make their reasoning and problem-solving strategies visible to students whenever possible (Collins and Smith, 1982; Lester et al., 1994; Schoenfeld, 1983, 1985).
Effective instruction in advanced courses should involve building and nurturing a community of learners. A community of learners encourages students to take academic risks by providing opportunities for them to make mistakes, obtain feedback, and revise their thinking while learning from others with whom they are engaged in inquiry and cooperative problem-solving activities.
To nurture the capacity of students to generalize and transfer their learning to new problems, teachers must help students explore old understandings in new ways. To this end, teachers must draw out misconceptions in order to challenge and displace them (Blumenfeld, Marx, Patrick, Krajcik, and Soloway, 1997; Caravita and Hallden, 1994; Jones, Rua, and Carter, 1998; NRC, 2000b; Pearsall, Skipper, and Mintzes, 1997;).
Since intrinsic motivation is self-sustaining, instruction should be planned so as to maximize the opportunity for developing a strong intrinsic motivation to learn. Students benefit when they can experience success and develop the confidence of a successful learner—one who has the tools to ask relevant questions, formulate problems and reframe issues, and assess his or her own knowledge and understanding (Alaiyemola, Jegede, and Okebukola, 1990; Stipek, 1998). Table 7-2 illustrates the emphases of instructional practices to support learning with understanding.
Educational assessments can be designed for any number of purposes, from conducting large-scale evaluations of multiple components of educational programs to measuring individual students’ mastery of a specified skill. Understanding assessment results requires that the user draw inferences from available data and observations that are supported by the assessment. Three key concepts related to assessments—reliability, validity, and fairness—underlie a user’s ability to draw appropriate inferences from the
Why should assessments, learning objectives, and instructional strategies be aligned?
Assessments should reveal how well students have learned what we want them to learn while instruction ensures that they learn it. For this to occur, assessments, learning objectives, and instructional strategies need to be closely aligned so that they reinforce one another.
To ensure that these three components of your course are aligned, ask yourself the following questions:
- Learning objectives: What do I want students to know how to do when they leave this course?
- Assessments: What kinds of tasks will reveal whether students have achieved the learning objectives I have identified?
- Instructional strategies: What kinds of activities in and out of class will reinforce my learning objectives and prepare students for assessments?
What if the components of a course are misaligned?
If assessments are misaligned with learning objectives or instructional strategies, it can undermine both student motivation and learning. Consider these two scenarios:
Your objective is for students to learn to apply analytical skills, but your assessment measures only factual recall. Consequently, students hone their analytical skills and are frustrated that the exam does not measure what they learned.
Your assessment measures students’ ability to compare and critique the arguments of different authors, but your instructional strategies focus entirely on summarizing the arguments of different authors. Consequently, students do not learn or practice the skills of comparison and evaluation that will be assessed.
What do well-aligned assessments look like?
This table presents examples of the kinds of activities that can be used to assess different types of learning objectives (adapted from the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy).
|Type of learning objective||Examples of appropriate assessments|
Objective test items such as fill-in-the-blank, matching, labeling, or multiple-choice questions that require students to:
Activities such as papers, exams, problem sets, class discussions, or concept maps that require students to:
Activities such as problem sets, performances, labs, prototyping, or simulations that require students to:
Activities such as case studies, critiques, labs, papers, projects, debates, or concept maps that require students to:
Activities such as journals, diaries, critiques, problem sets, product reviews, or studies that require students to:
Activities such as research projects, musical compositions, performances, essays, business plans, website designs, or set designs that require students to:
This table does not list all possible examples of appropriate assessments. You can develop and use other assessments – just make sure that they align with your learning objectives and instructional strategies!
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