How to create your own constructed response assessments You have seen what a constructed response assessment looks like and why it is important to use them with your students. Now it’s time to see how to create your own CR assessments for the lessons and units that you teach. Since at this time, there is no great repository for quality constructed response items for all topics at all grade levels, you need to know how to create your own. This section will provide you with 1) a process that you might consider when designing and using a constructed response assessment, 2) a list of possible constructed response “products,” 3) the components of a constructed response item, 4) what to include in a scoring rubric, and 5) a template to use to guide the development of your own constructed response assessments. Keep in mind, as the diagram above suggests, we are trying to get students to produce answers and solutions, not just select them. The next page outlines a process for the development and use of construct response items. While it may seem lengthy and rather formal, it is important as you begin to design your own assessments that you consider all of those steps. Soon it will become second nature to you, and you will not need to consult the process page or use the template to quickly create high-quality assessments for your class. St. Clair County ISD The How Page 1 Constructed Response Assessment Development & Use Process Clearly identify the concept or benchmark you want to assess? What do you want your students to “construct”? What will the product be? Ex. Written response, labeled graph, diagram, etc. Design a real-world prompt connected to your students’ lives to frame the assessment for your students. Create the task you will ask your students to complete. Be clear as to what the product should look like and include. Create a scoring rubric. Give the assessment to your students and monitor them as they work on it. Score the responses using the rubric: Students or teacher or both can score it. Analyze the responses, and revise instructional strategy, if needed. St. Clair County ISD The How Page 2 CR Products Here are some ideas of products you can ask your students to create for their assessment. This list is certainly not all-inclusive, but it will give you some grade-appropriate ideas to get started. K-2 Ideas Diagrams/pictures (possibly labeled or explained to you) Explanations (oral or written) of simple histograms (bar graphs) Venn Diagrams for comparisons and classifications Lists (students generate) Completing a statement or short story either in writing, orally, or with a picture Construction of a model (with labeled parts) based on something the students have just learned about; e.g. a spider Given objects or pictures, ask students to organize them in some way Any of the following grades 3-5 ideas that you feel can be adapted for successful use by your students 3-5 Ideas Written response to a prompt and question(s) Labeled diagram Explanation of data provided in a table or graph Creation of a graph using data that is provided; possibly with an explanation of what they can conclude from their constructed graph Explanation of a photograph or answer to a question based on a photo. Solution to a problem: Students are asked how they would solve a problem using the assessed concepts. Persuasive Letter written to a given audience using the assessed concepts as evidence to support their position. Construction of a model that demonstrates understanding of the assessed concept. Any of the K-2 ideas that can be adapted to appropriately assess your students. St. Clair County ISD The How Page 3 Components of a Constructed Response There are four main components of a constructed response assessment: 1. The Prompt 2. The Product 3. The Task 4. The Rubric Each of these is described in more detail below. The Prompt The “prompt” should be used to “set the stage” for the assessment. It should relate to the world of your students, which will be different depending on their age and background. It should be interesting An interesting prompt can capture a student’s attention and interest in completing the task. Too often it seems that students “just don’t want to write.” Maybe it is because we don’t ask them to write about interesting things. Think back to the first constructed response assessment in the toolkit (page 4) on the function of leaves on a tree. Students could have been asked to, “Explain the function of leaves on a plant.” While some students would need only that to motivate them to write what they know about leaves, many other students need more. The story about the two boys talking while one picks leaves off of a tree is something that all students can relate to. Undoubtedly all have picked at least some leaves off of a plant at least once. This may engage them and encourage them to think about how that might have impacted the plant. That prompt does not give them the knowledge needed to answer the question, but it motivates them to think about and try to answer it. St. Clair County ISD The How Page 4 It should be local Use local geographical features, landmarks, and industries in your prompts when they apply. For example, if you are assessing your students understanding of expansion and contraction matter causes by changing temperatures, include the Blue Water Bridge in your prompt. If you are assessing students’ understanding of the water cycle, mention Lake Huron or the St. Clair River in your prompt. It should require reading (grade appropriate amounts) Fourth and fifth grade students should occasionally be exposed to paragraph-length prompts. Longer prompts let you set a more detailed scene and give students practice with the types of prompts they will see on the science MEAP test. Here is a prompt from a prototype of the 2002 5th grade science MEAP. Here is the constructed response question that they ask based on the above prompt: Shannon decided that the regular yellow popcorn was the BEST popcorn. Identify two pieces of evidence from the chart that support her decision. Students are required to read the entire paragraph and understand the chart in order to answer the question. That prompt would be used for several other selected response questions in the cluster. Students need to be challenged by such prompts before and should be used to them by the fifth grade test. St. Clair County ISD The How Page 5 Not all prompts need to be paragraphs, however. At the lower grades they will need to be short and to the point. You can orally explain the prompts in greater detail to better set the scene, but young students should not have to wade through so much writing they lose track of the task. It should be relevant The prompt should relate to the task be asked of your students. An interesting, local story that does not relate to the task you are asking your students to complete may just serve to confuse them. The Product The types of products you ask your students to produce have been discussed. When choosing the type of product you should consider: What type best lends itself to students showing what I really want to see that they know? In other words, a bar graph might be a good product to discuss changes in populations in an ecosystem over time, but would probably not be a good one to assess students’ understanding of simple machines. What is developmentally appropriate for your students? What type of product have I not used in a while. To accommodate various learning styles and to give students practice with several types, you should mix up the product types. The Task The task, as defined here, refers to the actual directions to your students as to what they should do, such as… … create a bar graph using the data in the table and explain… … using what you have learned about gravity and friction explain why the car had difficulty stopping… … draw and label the parts of the plant used for the intake and transport of water and minerals throughout the plant. St. Clair County ISD The How Page 6 Here are some guidelines for evaluating your tasks: A well-written constructed response task should: Clearly tell students what they are to do. Clearly tell students where they are to write their response. If the students are to write their response on the assessment page, there should be sufficient space for them to respond completely. Use simple, but authentic, vocabulary and good sentence structure. Identity the information or material that the students should use when preparing their response (data chart, graph, lab activity report, etc.) Clearly indicate the process that should be demonstrated (identify, explain, predict, describe, etc.) Provide cues to students as to what the finished product might look like. (Write a paragraph, list two pieces of evidence, draw a diagram and label… etc.) The Rubric The rubric is an important part of the constructed response assessment. It is addressed in detail in the following section on “Scoring Constructed Response Assessment.” Evaluating The Assessment It is important to observe your students while they are completing the assessment to see if they understand the directions and know what is expected of them. St. Clair County ISD The How Page 7 If, upon scoring the responses, a large percentage of your students score poorly on the assessment, it may be because of one of two reasons: 1) They do not have a good understanding of the science content and concepts you are assessing, or 2) the assessment is not designed well enough to allow them to show their understanding. You will need to be the judge which of the above is occurring. It is likely that by evaluating where their mistakes or omissions are you will be able to tell whether the assessment needs to be modified the next time or whether you may need to go back and teach the concepts in a different way so that more students master them to the desired level. On the other hand, if a large percentage of your students do very well on the assessment if may be because 1) they have a strong understanding of the concepts being assessed, or 2) the assessment is not challenging them sufficiently to express a deep understanding of the concept. If the latter is the case, the constructed response assessment is not much different than a selected response assessment that assesses at a very low level. In either of the above cases, do not be afraid to evaluate the assessment and modify it at that time for readministering to your current students or make notes so that you will not use it again next year in exactly the same form. St. Clair County ISD The How Page 8 Constructed Response Assessment Template Use this template to design a well-thought constructed response assessment. The sections below are suggested considerations only. You might want to consider more factors than this when designing your assessment. What is the benchmark, standard, or concept you will be assessing? This is to be used as a(n): ____ Pre-assessment ____ Embedded assessment This assessment will ask students to “construct” a(n)… ____ Post-assessment Product ideas: Short, written response Labeled graph or diagram Letter or other “real-world” product List (evidence, procedure steps, further questions, etc.) Oral response How will the responses be scored? ____ Student (peer) only ____ Student with teacher review ____ Teacher only How many points will the assessment be worth? _________________ Describe the prompt and how it connects to the lives of your students or to their previous knowledge. Write the complete constructed response assessment here, including all prompts (text, graph, diagram, etc.). Provide students with enough cues so they clearly know what is expected of them. Create a rubric for scoring the assessment.
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