ERIC Number: ED424278
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1998-May
Improving Student Depth of Understanding through the Use of Alternative Assessment.
Campbell, Dirk; DeWall, Lora; Roth, Trenton; Stevens, Sharon
This report describes a program for improving students' depth of understanding through the use of alternative assessment. The targeted population consisted of students at one elementary, one junior high, and two high schools in two growing middle class communities in northern Illinois. Lack of student understanding was documented through teacher observation checklists, journal entries, student reflections, and content evaluations. Analysis of probable cause data reveals that students' lack of understanding is due to current assessment practices, currently used instructional strategies, and scheduling and curriculum constraints. A review of solution strategies suggested by researchers and educators, combined with an analysis of program setting, resulted in the selection of two major categories of intervention. The first was a revision of instructional strategies focusing on higher-order thinking, problem solving, and cooperative learning. The second was implementing alternative assessments to evaluate student understanding and creating opportunities for student self-assessment. Postintervention data indicated an increase in students' depth of understanding of content. Through the use of cooperative learning, class bonding took place and a comfortable learning environment was created. With an emphasis placed on the use of graphic organizers, students were better with their organizational skills. The continued teaching of problem-solving strategies improved students' ability to think logically. Alternative assessments provided students with a greater sense of ownership of their work, a more enthusiastic approach to learning, and the increased use of higher-order thinking. Student reflection requirements developed their metacognitive skills and gave students a way to assess and chart their own progress. Evidence shows that students have gone beyond the basics to a deeper understanding of content. Thirty-seven appendixes present cover letters and forms used in the study and other supplemental information. (Contains 8 tables and 49 references.) (Author/SLD)
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Master's Action Research Project, St. Xavier University and IRI/Skylight.