"Easy" Assessment

Who it is for:
Anyone looking to boost some confidence in written assessment tasks.

Outline of the idea:

I stumbled across this completely by accident when I left a class with a cover teacher to do an end of unit test. We use Assessment Grids like this one to make marking more simple and highlight “things you should have said” for students. However, the cover teacher gave these out to students while they sat their tests. Unsurprisingly the students did rather well! When marking I was a little annoyed at first but then realised that in the run up to the exams some of the students still lack confidence in structuring written work and explaining their ideas fully. Giving them the “answers” like this allowed them to focus on structure and style of their writing rather than on recall of knowledge.

How it worked:
It was obvious that the students felt confident in expressing themselves. My hunch is that now it will be significantly more simple to say to them: “You can do this well, all you need to do is learn the content“. Another benefit is that when the students reflect on their mark they might be less focussed on “What did I get wrong?” and more focussed on “How well did I express the information?”

It also gave some insight into those students who didn't have a good grasp of the exam criteria they need to meet in order to achieve well. I can now focus on this with the relevant students as they revise.

Next steps:

Obviously this isn't something to do every time, but when looking to shift the focus away from “content” onto “skills” I might consider doing this more deliberately in the future. Another option could be to give the students the exam papers before they start the test and give them some time to work out how they'd answer the questions. I suppose the key issue is knowing what you are intending to asses. In this case I hope that the students will realise where their skills are and develop them appropriately; we'll worry about whether they know the content another day!