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Article

Meagan Karvonen, Neal M. Kingston, Michael L. Wehmeyer, and W. Jake Thompson

Historically pervasive models of disability as a deficit negatively impacted thinking about the accessibility of educational assessments and how this issue should be addressed. In a deficit-based model, assessments are designed without consideration of individual differences and students with disabilities receive accommodations as an exception to the typical administration. With the shift to social models of disability, the assessment field has concomitantly adopted new approaches to designing and administering assessments that recognize variability in how individuals interact with assessments. Inclusive assessment requires that conditions are in place to support the validity of score inferences for their intended uses—for all students. Inclusive assessment requires moving past a deficit-based model and designing for examinee variability. An inclusive model requires knowledge of student characteristics and new ways of thinking about student-item interactions. Computer-based testing and other technologies such as alternative or augmentative communication devices provide support for flexible assessment administration. One way to ensure inclusive assessments meet professional standards for quality is to blend evidence-centered design and universal design principles. Evidence-centered design has five stages that span from construct definition to inferences made from test scores: domain analysis, domain modeling, conceptual assessment framework, assessment implementation, and assessment delivery. Assessment developers can use universal design principles to minimize construct-irrelevant variance by attending to the student’s engagement when presented with assessment stimuli and items, articulating the information the student needs to know in order to respond correctly, and providing multiple means to communicate responses. When evidence-centered design and universal design are blended, these approaches support inclusive assessment design, administration, and scoring, as well as evidence for validity and technical adequacy. Shifts in policy and educational practice are also necessary to support inclusive assessment.

Article

Writing  

Danielle S. McNamara and Laura K. Allen

Writing is a crucial means of communicating with others and thus vital to success and survival in modern society. Writing processes rely on virtually all aspects of cognition (e.g., working memory, motivation, affect, self-regulation, prior knowledge, problem solving) and are naturally embedded in social contexts. Social factors include writers’ objectives, audience, genre, and mode of writing. For example, the increased use of the Internet has rendered writing for informal purposes more frequent, and writing mechanics (e.g., deleting, spell checking) and search for information more efficient. Research on educational interventions to improve writing points to the importance of providing students with instruction and practice using writing strategies, writing practice with feedback (e.g., instructor, automated), and collaborative writing (including peer feedback). Given the inherent complexity of writing, it is important to help students learn how to write across various situations with varying purposes and demands. This necessitates reading many types of text genres (e.g., narrative vs. informational writing), writing frequently, and revising based on feedback. Since the turn of the century, there has been a substantial increase in research on writing processes, including methods to improve writing. However, there remains a substantial need for additional experimental work to understand writing processes as well as more evidence on which types of interventions are most beneficial in helping students to improve their writing. Feedback from both cognitive and sociocultural researchers should inform future revisions of the standardized guidelines and assessments with the long-term goal of developing a clearly defined set of standards for academic excellence in writing.

Article

Stephen M. Ritchie

STEM education in schools has become the subject of energetic promotion by universities and policymakers. The mythical narrative of STEM in crisis has driven policy to promote STEM education throughout the world in order to meet the challenges of future workforce demands alongside an obsession with high-stakes testing for national and international comparisons as a proxy for education quality. Unidisciplinary emphases in the curriculum have failed to deliver on the goal to attract more students to pursue STEM courses and careers or to develop sophisticated STEM literacies. A radical shift in the curriculum toward integrated STEM education through multidisciplinary/ interdisciplinary/ transdisciplinary projects is required to meet future challenges. Project-based activities that engage students in solving real-world problems requiring multiple perspectives and skills that are authentically assessed by autonomous professional teachers are needed. Governments and non-government sponsors should support curriculum development with teachers, and their continuing professional development in this process. Integrating STEM with creative expression from the arts shows promise at engaging students and developing their STEM literacies. Research into the efficacy of such projects is necessary to inform authorities and teachers of possibilities for future developments. Foci for further research also are identified.