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Classroom Assessment Techniques
Performance Assessment

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Timothy F. Slater
Department of Physics & Astronomy
University of New Mexico

Timothy F. Slater

"While I was a graduate teaching assistant...I sympathized with students who told me that there were two ways of taking college science classes. One was to learn and understand the material and the other was to get an "A."...I realized that what I loved about doing science was DOING science...I began exploring ways to adopt the procedures already well understood in the performing arts...Over the years, I have used performance assessment at a variety of levels of commitment. I now believe...performance assessments emphasize to students that procedural knowledge and creative problem solving is at least as important as basic factual knowledge."

Although facts and concepts are fundamental in any undergraduate SMET course, knowledge of methods, procedures and analysis skills that provide context are equally important. Student growth in these latter facets prove somewhat difficult to evaluate, particularly with conventional multiple-choice examinations. Performance assessments, used in concert with more traditional forms of assessment, are designed to provide a more complete picture of student achievement.

Performance assessments are designed to judge student abilities to USE specific knowledge and research skills. Most performance assessments require the student to manipulate equipment to solve a problem or make an analysis. Rich performance assessments reveal a variety of problem-solving approaches, thus providing insight into a student's level of conceptual and procedural knowledge.


Instructor Preparation Time: Medium.
Preparing Your Students: None.
Class Time: 10-40 minutes depending on complexity of task.
Disciplines: Appropriate for laboratory-based sciences.
Class Size: Small for direct applications, unlimited for embedded assessments using student-completed forms.
Special Classroom/Technical Requirements: Varies according to task.
Individual or Group Involvement: Both.
Analyzing Results: Low.
Other Things to Consider: Manipulative materials are often required as well as room monitors.

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