intrinsically motivating student achievement by alternative assessment

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Crossing the Rubicon Inspiring Intrinsic Motivation through Alternative Assessment Brian Surkan | The Walker School

Author: bsurkan

Post on 08-May-2015




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Innovative educational authors and thinkers often identify the tradition of conventional testing as a core obstacle in overhauling education. While “teaching to the test” draws near universal ire, most of us continue the old routine: lesson -> homework practice -> quiz -> test -> next unit -> lesson -> practice, etc. Students are warned to pay attention and take quality notes in order to perform well on the omnipresent test. Wouldn’t it be great if students enjoyed coming to class because they embraced ownership of their own learning and found the material to be both relevant and engaging? Over the years, I have found ways of overhauling the structure of my classroom to transfer the ownership of the learning to the students via a combination of mutual respect and an alternative grading strategy. My methods include rich participation metrics, diverse projects and effective editing. Innovative assessments are not only possible within the constraints of conventional external grades, but students and parents embrace them. Diverse classrooms of students at different skill levels can also be readily accommodated. In addition to outlining methodologies, ready-to-use assessment tools will be provided for teachers to use directly or adapt to their needs.


  • 1.Crossing the Rubicon Inspiring Intrinsic Motivation through Alternative Assessment Brian Surkan | The Walker School

2. Foundational Questions 1.What are the objectives of our classes? 2.How would we like students to be motivated? 3.How can we optimize assessment to measure what matters to us? 3. What do you teach? 4. Multiple Objectives First: I teach students Kindness, perspective, citizenship, motivation, communications, and many more life lessons And they teach meperhaps even more Second: I teach history Lessons from the past Critical thinking and information validation Rhetorical skills, both oral and written 5. How are students commonly motivated? 6. Common Motivations Entertaining lessons Flashy Technology Competitions / Games Candy / Prizes Grades Engaging Projects Simulations Relevance Respect Praise 7. Dominant Motivation: Grades Teachers use as carrots & sticks Parents ditto College applications Class placement Academic awards Self-esteem 8. Ideally, how would we like our students to be motivated? 9. Ideal Motivations Understanding of the value of the material Passion for the subject Love of learning Pride in own work / behavior Respect for the teacher Respect for parents values / school choice 10. How can we achieve intrinsic motivation? 11. Outsourcing Motivation More selective admissions (private schools) Redirection of unmotivated to trade schools Fix it in lower grades (before they get to me) Eliminate grades (or employ grade inflation) New national standards Hypnotism 12. Working Within Sphere of Influence Rafe EsquithKatherine Harrison Public School 5th Grade Inner City L.A. Gangs / violence real risks Students below grade level Few native English speakers ~ 35 Students / year Self-contained class No assistantPrivate School 3rd 5th grade Spanish ~ 175 Students / year No textbook No assistant No worksheets Student-generated tests Phenomenal results 13. Keys to intrinsic motivation? 14. Respect Assume students are interested in operating at high levels of moral development Listen to students Provide options whenever possible Include students in decision-making Admit own mistakes without excuses No wasted time 15. Relevance Clarify relevance of lessons to students lives Engaging texts / resources Organize lessons in a proper hierarchy Meaningful requirements (not arbitrary) Meaningful homework No busywork 16. Reflection Foster student self-awareness of Potential Participation Progress Performance Explicit, systematic self-assessment On-going improvement 17. Practical Applications 18. Respect Student desks are arranged in a circle Students flag in equal access to speak I solicit suggestions on class structure on day 1 I solicit student advice when Im confused I trust students, including take home tests I provide a variety of project options Students run the class blogs 19. Reflection Students propose quest quest-ions (sample) Student Surveys formal and informal Quarterly Plus / Delta Reflection Sessions Grading 50% Performance 50% Participation Writ Large (see printed rubric) 25% Student-assessed 25% Teacher-assessed 20. Relevance Class time is intense with little down time Homework always requires deep thought Minimal use of insipid conventional textbooks Customized quests for each section Students encouraged to experience history Simulations used wherever possible World Wars / Mock Congress / Railroads 21. Results? 22. By changing assessment, students develop self-esteem founded on achievement invest well beyond minimum requirements realize that learning is about the journey develop more self-control and focus retain what they learn 23. Teachers? Engaged students = happy parents = no calls Participation -> honest performance grades Students become increasingly engaged Class management issues dissipate Grades can be calibrated as needed 24. Questions? 25. Caveat: Grades 26. Grades are here to stay, get what you measure. 27. What would we like grades to measure? Participation Character Interest Performance Progress 28. Traditional Emphasis Performance? Measures cumulative outcome Objective Habitual Non-controversial It prepares them for the next level 29. Problems with Performance Discounts the learning process Suggests that only the end result matters Cheating Does not reflect life Cramming 30. Alternative Assessment 31. 3P System (1) Performance - 1/3 Progress - 1/3 Participation - 1/3 32. 3P System (2) AdvantagesDisadvantages Recognizes progress Reduces weight placed on Performance Recognizes participation Hard to quantify Lacks student ownership Still extrinsic 33. Sources 2/06/motivation.jpg