Monday, 29 April 2013

Revising Hands-On Assessments (Science 9)

Original test set-up (circuit stations at front of room)
This week we finally had our first physics test on current electricity.  The students were required as part of their test to create a simple circuit from a diagram provided.  I made 2 major changes to this lab question from previous years.  First, instead of using the front 4 tables as lab stations, I used the side counters.  The reason for this was that last year's students complained of feeling the pressure of performing in front of their peers even though no one was actually watching them (see photo).  I noticed that the less confident kids did indeed choose to wait for the lab stations near the back corners of the room.  I could tell this since these 2 were the stations that required the most support.

This brings me to the 2nd change.  I made circuit question out of 11 marks.  Sensing apprehension, I told the students that building the circuit was only worth 5 of the 11.  If they couldn't figure out how the components went together I explained that after they attempted to build the circuit I would come and fix anything that they did wrong, obviously subtracting 1 point per error.  So,  in worst case scenario, they might get 0/5 but in reality the lowest score (in this class) was 3/5.  However, knowing that their circuit was going to be perfect before they made their readings on the ammeter, voltmeter and resistor (which they needed to perform the calculations required for the other 6 marks), they felt good about getting at least 6/11 possible marks.  This also made my marking much more authentic. Last year I was giving out zero marks for their calculations since their answers were wrong due to errors on reading their meters.  I feel better now about not giving marks for construction and rewarding proper calculations since their raw data is now accurate.  Of course if their calculations were wrong, now I knew that they didn't know the formulas instead of not knowing how to build the circuit.  Both are important and I like having separated the two and the students felt this was very fair and actually reduced some of their anxiety.

Post Courtesy of Tim Haberstock

1 comment:

  1. HI Tim,

    I enjoyed peeking in on your thought process as you made changes to this lab. It is so encouraging to see experienced teachers continuing to look for ways to make their courses more authentic and relevant to students. Awesome job!