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An experiential science program, such as a summer course at a field station, requires unique assessment tools. Traditional assessment via a pencil-and-paper exam cannot capture the essential skills and concepts learned at a summer field station. Therefore, the authors developed a pre- and postcourse image-based analysis to evaluate student perspectives, created weekly pass/fail quizzes, and produced a comprehensive laboratory and field practical examination for our assessment of student learning.
A selection from Journal of College Science Teaching—July/August 2008
The article provides several alternative assessment methods to help determine the breath and depth of student learning in a 3-week summer science field course. Because so much of the course was set up to take place outdoors, the instructors created authentic field and lab practicals to take the place of more traditional paper and pencil assessments. The final assessment included a performance assessment that consisted of stations with authentic tasks to complete at each. Instead of asking the students on the first day of class what they already knew about the topic, the instructors chose a carefully selected iconic picture that represented the course. Students were instructed to analyze it carefully and come up with as many connections to the topic as they could. They were given the same item at the end of the course. The authors included the iconic picture and a table with sample student responses to show the increase in student learning that took place over three weeks. The instructors share a copy of the final assessment for their geoscience, field-station course.
Carolyn M (Buffalo Grove, IL)
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