Prior to ECS 410, I did not know anything about diagnostic assessment, but as I read and learn about it I notice that assessment for learning and diagnostic assessment go hand in hand. Although diagnostic assessment is something you do prior to learning a concept, and assessment for learning is something you do throughout the process of learning, they both aid in gathering information about the students knowledge. When I think of assessment for learning and diagnostic assessment, I think of teachers who “collect information that will inform the teacher’s next teaching steps and the student’s next learning steps.” (p.2)
I began searching for different ways to assess students in a classroom, and I came across an article titled “Seven Practices for Effective Learning”. As I was going through the article, I came across the third practice which was titled “Practice 3: Assess before teaching”. This section of the article related directly to what we have been learning in ECS 410 so far, which is diagnostic assessment. In class we talked a lot about the benefits of diagnostic assessment and how it will help us determine where the students are at in their learning, and where we should make changes and adaptations in our lesson plans to fit the students’ needs based on the diagnostic assessment. The following quote from the article I mentioned above logically states the importance of diagnostic assessment.
Armed with this diagnostic information, a teacher gains greater insight into what to teach, by knowing what skill gaps to address or by skipping material previously mastered; into how to teach, by using grouping options and initiating activities based on preferred learning styles and interests; and into how to connect the content to students’ interests and talents.
– Jay McTighe and Ken O’Connor
Diagnostic assessment was something I never really thought of doing in a mathematics classroom. I figured that if the students were in the class, they would have previous knowledge of the mathematical concepts being presented and if they did not they would just have to pay closer attention. However, I now know that is definitely not the way to teach and that I have to make adaptations to my lessons that will help me teach towards each student. When we had to come up with three diagnostic assessment tools for a grade 9 mathematics outcome in class, I was a bit overwhelmed because all I could think of was giving a pre-test; however, I soon came to realize that there are MANY diagnostic assessment tools that can be used across all subjects.
As I was searching for information related to diagnostic assessment, I came across a slideshow titled “Diagnostic Assessment Ideas”. As I was going through the slide, I noticed that some of these tools were similar to the ones we thought of in class; however, there were a couple new ones that I have not seen before. One of these tools is called “Word Splash”, which is where “students are given key words from the unit of study prior to learning [and] students are to write about their understandings of the words” (slide 14) I think Word Splash is a diagnostic tool that could be implemented across all subject areas, especially mathematics. If I simply put the words, right triangle, hypotenuse, and angles, my students could come up with many ideas of how these words connect. The topic that I would want them to discover would be Pythagorean Theorem; however, if they do not discover this topic, this diagnostic assessment tool will help me determine where they are at in their learning.
Davies, A. (2011). Making classroom assessment work (3rd ed.). Courtenay, B.C: Connections Pub.
McTighe, J., & O’Connor, K. (2005, November). Seven Practices for Effective Learning. [Web article]. Retrieved January 21, 2017, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov05/vol63/num03/Seven-Practices-for-Effective-Learning.aspx
Patti (pafirth). (2012, May 14). Diagnostic assessment ideas. [Slideshow]. Retrieved January 21, 2017, from http://www.slideshare.net/pafirth/diagnostic-assessment-ideas-12934737