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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Discussion activity 3, Evaluation

Evaluation Discussion for JPEG Radio Podcasts

When I started reading the course materials, the sentence that jumped out at me was when Achtemeier (2007) stated, “Is there a difference between ‘assessment’ and ‘evaluation’?” It made me think about the difference between the two. Is there a distinct difference?

According to my MacBook Leopard inbuilt dictionary, assessment is defined as “The evaluation or estimation of the nature, quality, or ability of someone or something”. Evaluation is defined as to “Form an idea of the amount, number, or value of, to assess”. It was interesting to see that the word “assess” was found in the evaluation definition and the word “evaluation” was found in the assessment definition. Are they really interchangeable?

Achtemeier (2007) said “Much of the literature in the broad area of assessment and evaluation tends to use the words "assessment" and "evaluation" interchangeably.” He went on further to say that he would refer to evaluation for the program and assessment for the student learning. So that’s how I will to think of the two in this review as well.

Having said that, my first thoughts here were all directed towards the form of the program evaluation. In teaching I tend focus more on assessment. I often don’t give evaluation as much attention as it deserves. At my present school the teachers are expected to evaluate each UOI or Unit of Inquiry. The students are also expected to evaluate each unit on completion.

Through my reading, I have become more aware of the different forms of evaluations that could be used in my classroom. I must admit that up until this point, I have mostly asked students to write reflections. This can become quite monotonous for the student, which I believe, can render the process somewhat ineffective. I am now feeling the need to extend my evaluation strategies. I was most interested in constructivist approaches to evaluation. I like to involve students in the process as the stakeholders. This has its drawbacks as children often lack a sense of balance and will focus on what they are good at and expect to be only assessed for that. It has been stated by Achtemeier (2007), Kickbusch (1996) and Reis & Renzulli (1991) as cited by Nowak and Plucker (1999) that assessment must be a must be on-going and diagnostic part of a constructivist learning program.

After a little searching, I have found some different forms of course evaluation that can be used within a constructivist-learning model. It has been suggested by Regina Public Schools and Saskatchewan Learning (2004) that there are many forms of student created evaluation such as:

A Closing Circle – a quick circle around the room in which each student has to share something learned that has a real application.

Exit Cards – a five-minute time for students to respond to a question posed by the teacher. The card is filled in and put into a designated container to be later read by the teacher.

Learning Logs – This is not assessed but serves the purpose to organize thoughts.

Reflective Journals – may be in the form of a blog or diary

Rubrics – used to facilitate peer assessment. The rubric could be teacher or student generated.

Write a letter – students can write a letter to themselves explaining what they have learned.

In regards to the assessment of student work, Nowak and Plucker (1999) identified four ways to better align learning and assessment. Those were;

Suggestion One: Stress that students are professionals in the field and assess them as if you were their supervisor.

Suggestion Two: If instruction is problem-based, assessment should be similarly structured.

Suggestion Three: Provide reasonable guidelines regarding your expectations for the students.

Suggestion Four: Don’t hold off on assessment until the end of the activity or unit; model real-world behavior, in which ongoing assessment occurs.

This aligns well with the IBO’s direction in assessment procedures. Teachers are encouraged to provide regular feedback to students and to use a variety of assessment forms. At my school we must record our assessment and evaluation. Like Trochim (2006) has defined, the most important basic distinction in evaluation types is that between formative and summative evaluation.

Currently my most used assessment types are:

Reflective Journals (Formative or Summative)
Rubrics (Summative)
Tests (Summative)
Presentations (Summative)
Mind Maps or Concept Maps (Formative or Summative)
Criteria Checklists (Formative)

For the purpose of assessing the students in this project they will make reflective journals via their blogs. Make a mind map about their job description and work. The criteria checklists will include skills (specific to the job to produce a podcast in the radio company), demonstrative knowledge about how to work in that job and attitudes displayed when working on the job. Input for the content of this checklist will be gathered from the students and other teachers involved in the project. The checklist will include the following:

Can write a descriptive paragraph about the job description
Able to work in accordance to the job description (anecdotal records)
Can correctly identify the skills needed to carry out tasks within the job
Demonstrates a positive attitude and enthusiasm to complete the tasks given
Understands how to seek help as difficulties arise
Understands the company mission and can talk about their personal contribution

These points have been taken from the original inquiry:

1. Role and responsibilities in an organizational structure
2. The relationship between the different departments of a company
3. What makes an organization effective?

The evaluation of the project will be gathered by making surveys of the school community about the podcasts. The students will write a letter to themselves describing what they have learned from their work in this project. These letters will be published on the class blogs and all students will be encouraged to comment on their peers’ posts. The students will also be required to write a reflection in the form of the ‘choose – act – reflect’ cycle. This will focus on the job that the student had to do in the class company.


Kickbusch, K 1996, Teaching for Understanding: Educating Students for Performance [online], Available from: [Accessed: 4/5/08].

Nowak, J and Plucker, J 1999, Do as I Say, Not as I Do? [online], Available from: [Accessed: 4/5/08].

Regina Public Schools and Saskatchewan Learning 2004, Constructivism - Knowledge Building in the Secondary Classroom [online], Available from: [Accessed: 4/5/08].

Trochim, W 2006, Introduction to Evaluation [online], Available from: [Accessed: 6/5/08].