Teach the Earth > Teaching Methods > Assessment
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This material was originally created for Starting Point:Introductory Geology
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.

William Slattery, Departments of Geological Sciences and Teacher Education, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio


What is Assessment?

Assessment is the process of observing and measuring learning. Assessments provide faculty with a better understanding of what your students are learning and engage students more deeply in the process of learning geoscience content. By using assessment strategies that draw students into the assessment process it is more likely that they learn more of the geoscience content that you want them to learn while getting the added benefits of learning skills that will be useful to them in the future. As the National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996 ) points out, assessments don't take time from learning, they are learning experiences by themselves. Click on the following link for additional information on the Domains of Learning.

Why Is Assessment Important?

By deliberately using different Functions of Assessments at specific times during the learning process students will have a clearer vision of what is expected of them and generally will be more positive about their course experiences. They will also learn to use skills that will help them understand how scientists analyze and present findings. In addition, a program of sustained student assessment is the foundation for evaluation of courses and geoscience programs.

How to Use an Assortment of Assessment Strategies

Imagine that you have just finished a lecture on atmospheric dynamics, ocean currents or plate tectonics. Students anxiously ask "will we be tested on this?" They are concerned about getting a good grade. There might be some questions you have yourself, such as, "How do I know my students learned anything? Have they met my learning objectives for the unit? Are they ready to tackle more abstract conceptual ideas in the geosciences?" By learning how to use the assessment strategies in this module, you will reduce student anxiety and it is likely that they will learn and remember more of what you want them to know.

Examples of Assessment in Various Learning Settings

Geoscientists teach and learn in the laboratory, classroom and in the field. Students learning in those varied settings can get value added learning experiences by engaging in some of the same activities that geoscientists use to gather and analyze data and report their findings to their colleagues. Click on the following link to see examples of assessment in several learning settings.

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