8 Ways Technology Is Improving Education
Part 3November 22, 2010 by Sarah Kessler
5. More Efficient Assessment
Models and simulations, beyond being a powerful tool for teaching concepts, can also give teachers a much richer picture of how students understand them.
“You can ask students questions, and multiple choice questions do a good job of assessing how well students have picked up vocabulary,” Dorsey explains. “But the fact that you can describe the definition [of] a chromosome … doesn’t mean that you understand genetics any better … it might mean that you know how to learn a definition. But how do we understand how well you know a concept?”
In Geniverse, a program the Concord Consortium developed to help students understand genetics by “breeding” dragons, teachers can give students a problem that is much more like a performance assessment. The students are asked to create a specific dragon. Teachers can see what each student did to reach his or her end result and thereby understand whether trial-and-error or actual knowledge of genetics leads to a correct answer.
The organization is also developing a program that will help teachers collect real-time assessment data from their students. When the teacher gives out an assignment, she can watch how far along students are, how much time each a spends on each question, and whether their answers are correct. With this information, she can decide what concepts students are struggling with and can pull up examples of students’ work on a projector for discussion.
“What they would have done in the past is students would make a lab report, they’d turn it in, the teacher would take a couple of days to grade it, they’d get it back a couple of days later, and two to three days later they’d talk about it,” Dorsey says. “But they’ve probably done a couple of lessons in between then, [and] they haven’t had time to guide the students immediately as they learn it."