Assessment lab
Secondary School
Science Teaching Methods
Adam Johnston & Sharon Ohlhorst


Although we have looked into what students should learn in the classroom, we have done very little to examine how we are supposed to gauge this learning.  How do we know if our students have learned what they are supposed to?  A problem that we face is that many of the ways that we ourselves have demonstrated our learning has been fairly traditional: You read some stuff, take some notes, work out a few problems, and then answer a few questions in a 50 minute time period.  Surely there must be other ways to assess learning.


Your assignment is to look into some particular assessment technique, come to understand it, and then share it with the rest of us.  You may choose one of the following techniques:

bullet ConceptTests
bullet Concept mapping
bullet Conceptual diagnostic tests
bullet Interviews
bullet Minute Paper
bullet Performance assessment
bullet Portfolios
bullet Scoring rubrics
bullet Student assessment of learning gains
bullet Weekly reports


Where on Earth am I ever going to start understanding any one of these assessment measures? A very fair question.  You could begin by doing extensive research and writing a doctoral dissertation on the topic.  Or, you could go to a website that has incorporated expert descriptions of each of these assessment techniques: the Field-tested Learning Assessment Guide, or FLAG (  With one particular assessment technique in mind, go to this site and research your assessment technique.  (You can browse around the site for quite a while, but for a quick start you should click on the “Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)” You will return to class and report on the following:

  1. What does this assessment technique look like?  Give us an example – a good one that you have thought about so that we can really see the usefulness of this assessment technique.
  2. What are the advantages of this technique?  In what instances would a teacher want to use this?
  3. What are the disadvantages of this technique?  What cautions should a teacher consider before considering the use of this technique?


Give the class a really fantastic presentation that will make all of us want to use this assessment technique!  If you want to provide handouts for your presentation, we can make copies for you.  (Be reasonable, please.)  Alternatively (or in addition), if you find any great resources (articles, web sites, contact persons, etc.), please provide us with that information.  Most importantly, demonstrate the assessment technique in such a manner that your colleagues will see the usefulness in the technique and have enough information to consider using it.  In a sense, your peers will be assessing your performance on your assessment research by deciding whether or not they will ever consider the assessment technique you will be promoting.