Assessment FOR, AS and OF Learning is important to the teacher, student and parent. I believe it is important to make explicit to students what they are expected to achieve during each lesson and unit of work. Make it very clear what you expect from each student in terms of their skills and understanding. Examples of work from other students are a useful benchmark and can be discussed in terms of what is good and what can be improved. Peer feedback and student self-assessment are valuable strategies to enable students to take responsibility for their own learning. Some of the following information is sourced from the "Beginning Science Teachers' Handbook" Published by STAV Publishing Pty Ltd March 2004.

Authentic Assessment

Authentic assessment
  • uses tasks which correspond to real life problems and situations
  • uses rich tasks that involve the real application of a skill beyond the instructional context
  • requires a quality product or performance
  • involves higher-order thinking skills
Example 1: My students designed a lizard garden and we chose the best design to construct at the Hawkesdale Common, using rocks, logs and plants. This project was aligned to VELS level 4.5 - "Understand what organisms need to survive in their habitats."
Example 2: Students designed and constructed nesting boxes for different native animals (birds, bats, possums and gliders) and installed them at the Hawkesdale Racecourse Reserve.
Example 3: Students planned and prepared a nutritious menu for the school camp to Apollo Bay.

Self and Peer Assessment

Self and Peer Assessment
  • encourages meaningful reflection and use of metacognitive skills
  • gives students greater responsibility
  • gives insights into how a student percieves themselves
  • can assess knowledge, skills, values and attidtudes (such as empathy for others)
Example 1: At the end of a unit of work on Endangered Species I showed all the slideshows, videos and posters to the class and they were asked to score each other's work on a prepared rubric (that they had used since the beginning of the unit) and ask each other questions about the work.

Assessment Rubrics

A Rubric or scoring matrix
  • is an authentic assessment tool which is particularly useful in assessing criteria that are complex and subjective
  • improves the reliability of scoring authentic assessment tasks
  • provides valuable professional development for staff
  • helps to improve student learning
  • raises standards of student performance as well as staff assessment methods.
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Rubrics for Assessment has dozens of rubrics for assessing various web2.0 products (digital portfolios, e-posters, webquests, podcasts, blogs and wikis) and 21st century skills (teamwork, research, writing, co-operative learning and oral presentations).
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Rubistar enables you to create and save rubrics online or download and print them for students. This site also has rubrics ready-made for assessing science fair experiments, science drawings or laboratory reports.
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INTEL offer some advice and resources for asessing science projects at "Using Assessment to Improve Teaching and Learning".
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Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators, from Discovery Education, is a great general resource with many different rubrics for different subject areas, including science laboratory reports, timelines, posters, web pages and other multimedia.
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The VCAA has produced a Science Assessment Map with annotated work samples that you may find useful. There are work samples for tasks about bouyancy, heating water, parachutes and electric circuits.
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Dr. Wetzel describes five alternative assessment techniques in this blog post.
2004