Questioning for appropriate assessment and learning
McCrudden, Edel Brid (2009) Questioning for appropriate assessment and learning. Master of Science thesis, Dublin City University.
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Assessment methods/formats have come to the forefront of issues concerning educationalists in the last few decades as they began to question established methods. These
questions were mainly concerned with the understanding that was being assessed of students and what results were telling educators about the way in which their students were
engaging with chemistry material. All assessment formats have been grouped essentially into two types: summative and formative assessment. Summative assessment is concerned
with an end of term/module assessment which examines students understanding of information/concepts covered during the course of a topic. This provides teachers/lecturers with a grade to award students based on a single examination. This study has investigated three forms of assessment: the summative assessment employed at Leaving Certificate level for Chemistry and the formative assessment methods used in two chemistry modules in Dublin City University. This study is divided into four separate chapters, dealing with the aforementioned studies conducted and a the first chapter dealing with comprehensive literature review on assessment formats, question styles and
technology employed in this study. For the second chapter analysis was performed on the current Leaving Certificate
Chemistry Curriculum (implemented in 2000, first examined in 2002) and the examinations completed by students at Higher Level since 2000. One method of analysis performed
utilised Blooms Taxonomy to identify the level of questioning used at Leaving Certificate Level. Results have shown that the majority percentage of questions employed at Higher Level are of the lower order identified by Bloom, with little or no questions of the higher orders, such as analysis, synthesis and evaluation questions being identified. Further analysis performed have shown that there is a lack of assessment of students understanding
of some core/sub topics, while others are over assessed, in comparison to the number of classes allocated to them in the Chemistry curriculum.
The third chapter has investigated the implementation of a continuous assessment element into a physical chemistry module for second year undergraduate chemistry students. This study employed the use of an electronic assessment tool to encourage student engagement with lecture material. Results have shown that the continuous assessment element has successfully identified problem areas in chemical kinetics and thermodynamics which requires more focus and explanation on the part of the lecturer. Results have shown that students displayed a lack of engagement with lecture material and also student surveys have supported these findings. Data has shown however that students enjoyed the use of these electronic assessment tools and began to take a more active role in their learning towards the end of the module as they used the CA elements in their revision for the end of module examination.
The fourth and final chapter deals with the formative
assessment introduced into a practical laboratory session through the use of pre and post laboratory tasks for first year undergraduate chemistry students. In this study a VLE was used to host a series of pre laboratory quizzes and post laboratory activities which aimed to help encourage
engagement with laboratory material out of the practical session. The pre laboratory quizzes were designed to help prepare students for their practical session. The post
laboratory questions were designed to assess students' understanding through the application and analysis of concepts covered within the practical session. Results have
shown that the use of pre and post laboratory sessions has engaged students outside of the practical session and that students feel readily prepared for their practical upon completion of the pre - laboratory quiz. However students displayed a lack of engagement with chemical concepts in the majority of the completed chemistry laboratories and have admitted to finding the post - laboratory questions employed particularly challenging.
Those laboratories which did show an increase in student engagement with chemical concepts, have displayed a large degree of linkage between the elements of the concept
questioned on both pre and post laboratory tasks.
This study has highlighted that regardless of the assessment method employed at either second or third level, the information that is provided by formative assessment can be appropriately utilised to ensure that students engage with chemical content. The most important conclusion which has been made in relation to all of the assessments analysed is the importance of appropriate question use. In order to assess student understanding of a chemical concept or completion of learning outcomes/objectives, educators must ensure that the questions employed are challenging but doable for all students, no matter what their chemical background and that the information provided by student attempts will help to identify problem areas for the entire cohort of students.
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