Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 5, Issue 3, Article
1 (Dec., 2004)
Mehmet KÜÇÜK & Salih ÇEPNİ
Measurement and assessment for science education in the Turkish educational context: Problems and reflections
3. Future Trends for Measurements and Assessment of Science Education
Many professionals in field of education are becoming increasingly involved in the assessment activities and knowledge of the process. Here a model, which is designed to guide, and which can be implemented to assess most institutional and departmental assessment, plans or programs will be discussed in some details (Walker, 1999). This model proposes that an assessment of a plan or program, with the primary goal of enhanced student academic achievement and educational program improvement, should exemplify the following five principles (Walker, 1999):
- Mission and educational goals are reflected in the assessment process.
- The conceptual framework is effective.
- Institutional personnel are involved in the design of the assessment process.
- Data are collected through multiple measures.
- An assessment of assessment activities is established.
Present assessments beyond the classrooms should be changed for two basic purposes: to provide a richer and fairer means of assessment for these purposes and to remove the control the tests exert over classroom instruction and assessment (Neill, 1997). Classroom performance assessment requires thinking about the child and about the context in which the child is or is not successfully learning. There is overwhelming evidence that suggests a need to shift from relying solely on traditional summative assessments, such as written tests and term papers, to the ongoing use of alternative assessments, such as simulations, portfolios, case studies, performances, and projects (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998; Veronesi, 2000). In this context, non-traditional assessment methods but alternative assessments, such as the more student-centered instructional strategies, have been shown to increase student achievement (Fogarty, 1997). To use these alternative methods gives a clearer picture of what students actually understand rather than what they have just memorized. This is achieved when we as instructors and teachers, provide a variety of assessment methods and student choice. It is believed to allow students to demonstrate their knowledge using vehicles, which are responsive to their learning needs.
The last science education research reports of the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Project 2061: Science for All Americans (1989) and Benchmarks for Scientific Literacy (1993) have stressed the more authentic and performance-based science learning over simplified testing methods. Performance assessment allows teachers to see and hear what students know and can do with more clarity than is possible on a written exam. From the students' point of view, it is important because they find themselves engaged to a greater degree in the nature of scientific enterprise with this kind of assessment than the standardized tests. There has been an ever-increasing realization that the teachers are not getting students to think, and even if they are thinking, teachers have insufficient evidence to demonstrate it. It is also seen that more authentic science assessments such as those in which students can demonstrate what they know and can do, have begun to appear with increasing frequency in the science education literature (Veronesi, 2000).
New assessment standards are supposed to require that students be placed in situations where they are given parameters of a problem and invited to propose solutions (Baird, 1995). In this way, students are expected to do more than respond to pre-written prompts on tests. In addition, an effective test should focus on how well students can apply their knowledge of science and technology to raw materials so that value is added and the resulting product can be sold competitively in the real world (Baird, 1995). Doran, Tamir and Chan (1995) analyzed the changes in assessment of science classroom learning. They discussed that using group-administered tests and pencil-paper tests changed to tests, which require student selection or choice of answers performance including projects, reports, and portfolios. There is a need for a shift from testing every student with a simplistic exam to using a combination of classroom-based information and on-demand performance exams (Neill, 1997).
Thus, students will be invited to take a more active role in determining what they know and do in science learning environments. They are also expected to maintain portfolios that contain evidence of their skills, the quality of their writing, reflective thoughts on their personal strengths and weaknesses and goals. Some researchers discussed about student assessment already moving toward portfolio assessment for all students. While this type of assessment requires more time than machine scoring a multiple-choice test, it provides a richer record of students' abilities. It also places responsibility on students to examine their progress over time and to take pride in personal growth.
Stiggins (1991) thought that in the future, accurate science assessment would require establishing assessment goals, educating practitioners, as well as the lay public, about authentic assessment, and creating a clear vision of standards and expectations. In addition, Veronesi (2000) explains that two trends will continue: a) states can report on students' abilities in science, some forms of easy scoring, inexpensive surrogate for real science performance of knowledge and skills will most probably continue well into the first decade of the 21st century; b) in a counter-trend, teachers will continue to develop an appreciation of the merits of performance-based science assessment.
Up to now, all explanations have obviously stressed that future assessment would be situated on performance assessment, not on determination of achievement levels of learners. Thus, it is high time to think and begin to seek for solutions to the existing problems of our traditional education system so that we will adapt our traditional system to the modern times', namely contemporary, system. We should also be contemplative over the one, which achieves this mission at first and goes one or more steps further in the years to come. So we should make a choice between the two, either to go further more or remain stable.
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