Portfolio 9.2

EDUC 252 Reflection 9.2


What does my group project work say about me as a learner?

My group’s project says that I am willing to apply what I’ve read and learned in a way that works for my setting and environment.  I am also willing to listen to the ideas of others in order to find a system that works.  In our project, a large portion of our formative assessment is multiple choice questions.  From the outside, this would seem very lack-luster and ineffective at assessing students’ learning for the purpose of learning.  But by listening to the ideas of my group mates, they came up with the idea of using some remediation for questions answered wrong.  In the end, I think that this is the best way to educate large numbers of students in a short amount of time.   As a learner, I am willing to accept and try new ideas.

If I’m honest, I am a cautious learner.  I do not like to take risks in groups.  If a certain idea seems impossible, or if I don’t know how to implement and idea, I am hesitant to go along and I tend to steer the group in another direction to avoid catastrophe.  While cautious, I am also open to ideas that are explained well, logical and supported by the tech skills of my teammates.

Ending with a product that I would have predicted, demonstrates that I am more open-minded and willing to take risks as a learner in this this class.

What does it demonstrate about my understanding of and skill with assessing student learning?

The project is based on assessment.  Advancement through the modules is dependent on a student’s ability to pass the assessment.  Instant feedback and remediation if needed are available to ensure that a student is learning. Then, at the end of the module a student assesses his/her readiness to meet the standards and be successful in the online environment.  Finally, a student applies his/her skills in the summative assessment.    If I were to look at how I view assessment as evidenced by this project, I’d say that assessment is ongoing.  Assessment is varied in our project.  By this, I mean that we have more than one kind of assessment (multiple choice questions, self-reflection/ and skill assessment).  Our assessment is related to the standards  or big idea and assessment involves the higher level thinking skills as students apply information in their summative.

What does the group project say about the group’s understanding of and skill with assessing student learning?

As a group, we were able to justify using multiple choice questions by using the instant feedback and loop to the remediation information and questions.  As a group, we had to discuss this and come to an agreement. I did not want to just use multiple choice questions.  As a group we were able to add the option of instant feedback and a loop back to more learning and questions to demonstrate learning.  I would not have taken the time to develop questions using this type of technology. I would have picked a different kind of assessment.  Because they can add the mastery component, I went along with it.  Really, it is the most efficient way to get a high number of students through a required intro at once.

The summative assessment, of the ill-structured problem was an interesting way to apply the ill-structured problem technique.  We have given the student an opportunity to ‘learn’ from the learning module, but then their big task is to actually function and perform the skills of a successful on line student.  Presenting an ill-structured problem in this way, with a skills based outcome, shows that we are stretching and twisting this technique, hopefully because we understand it.    If a student can perform the skills, they he or she has learned how to be a successful online student, and we (our group) is skilled at assessing student learning.

How did working on this project impact my understanding of the disciplinary big idea? The big idea was something we kept referring back to.  It gave us a target to aim for and to keep referring back to as we developed the layers of our project.  I am not sure if I understand the big idea better, but I can articulate what it means to be a successful online student and describe the skills needed in a concise way.  Using the big idea has helped us to make a clear and focused learning objective and goal for students.

What do my metacognition blog postings say about me as a learner and my progression of understanding in this class?

In the beginning, looking at Perry’s scheme gave me a framework to understand how and why ill structured problems work.  The blog gave me a place to process my learning and really work through problems or conflict in my thinking about how students learn.  I found myself actually working things out on the webpage as I wrote.  Had I not written the metacog blogs, I might not have seen the conflict in my own thinking because when I was required to write about it, I met it face to face.

The other thing I learned by doing the metacog blog was that it is my natural tendency to go into application mode. I kept trying to apply what I had learned to my teaching and neglected to look at myself as a learner.  While application is useful, it is a more surface level of learning.  Thinking about the thinking and diving into the conflict of how new learning changes the way I have been teaching or thinking in the past is a deeper level of learning.  What I learned from this is that I must ‘require’ myself to think about me as a learner instead of thinking of me as a teacher only.

 What have I learned about “portfolio learning” by reviewing my portfolio?  We had one required portfolio assignment for this class, but when I look at all of the assignments I see opportunities of trying new tools and applying concepts such as the ill structured problem.  Just storing the items together in an “open file” like the blog, creates opportunities to look back at what I’ve done and what I’ve learned.  Without the portfolio, there is little to none comparison, unless I’m required to do so.   Having the assignments in a ‘portfolio’ makes them available to view and compare.  This gives me a picture of the learning continuum as I complete assignments rather than just task I am focused on for every week.  Any discipline that is process oriented (What discipline isn’t?) could utilize a portfolio to help students see the process and reflect on their weaknesses and strengths as they learn.  It creates a more memorable experience for the learner as the structure invites them to go back.

This course has caused me to see how assessments can be a tool and not just an ending destination in the learning process.  So many times, in biology especially, it’s about passing a final exam or now the EOC (End of Course Exam).  Focusing assessment on the learning, like using student reflection as a tool, or creating an ill structured problem for students to work through, gives students a different focus.  It isn’t about what they can achieve on a test, it’s what they do with the info they have.  If assessments like formative assessments and self-reflections can help students self-identify what they need to learn, then the student is doing the work and we’ve taught them a valuable life lesson, how to learn.  Thank you for the valuable lessons in assessment as a student and as a teacher!


One response

  1. Hi Tanya,
    Warm glow on this end!

    First, I’m pleased that the group project demonstrates Wiliam’s “assess early and often.” Second, I understand full well what you had to go through in order to accept the multiple choice option, and I see that your resistance to that mode made the full assessment activity richer. I also end up seeing how the multiple choice questions can become useful–providing instant feedback (excellent) and an additional lesson only for students who need it. One thing you could watch for down the road–if all students get the multiple choice questions correct on the first try, then are the questions too easy? I guess the answer to that will be if you see improvement in students’ ability to navigate the course right from the beginning.

    Second, you’re the second “student” to explain the focusing power of the big idea. What this has done for me is cause me to think about how I could use big idea in a group project assignment. At what point in the group project would I ask the group to formulate the big idea and then use it to focus the rest of the steps in the process.

    Third, and most important to me of all, is your now clearly understanding both the function of a metacog blog and the function of a learning portfolio. The power of reflecting on yourself as a learner is huge and I hope you keep it up. It soon becomes much easier and a knee-jerk reaction. When I react oddly in a learning situation, I immediately jump into metacognition. That plus a raft of learning theories always helps me sort out–and learn how to teach something better.

    As for the learning portfolio, I remain convinced that this is the huge missing piece in higher education and it may be high school as well. I can tell you that students at Alverno College, who assess a learning portfolio in every class and also assess themselves as learners of group process, communication, analysis and the big theoretical ideas in their disciplines are no different than the students I had in my BC comp classes. And yet their sophistication and self-awareness as learners gave them a self-confidence and skill at learning that I never saw in my BC students. Imagine that every hs student got to reflect, at the end of every term, on what their portfolio said about themselves as learners. Would that change them as learners?

    Thank you for always being engaged, always being thoughtful. It’s been a non-stop pleasure to be able to comment on your work for two quarters.
    Full points, of course!

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