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Assessing Interactive Lectures

Assessment is often viewed as a process that takes time from teaching but since most students are grade concious and will focus on learning what will be assessed, the process of formative assessment can be a powerful driver for enhancing content understanding among introductory geoscience students. Using long-term formative assessment strategies, such as mapping plate boundaries using interactive lectures, can deepen content understandings and engage students in how data is used in the geosciences. Additional assessment strategies of interactive lectures are provided in the resource list at the bottom of this page.

Using Formative Assessment to Drive Learning

Black and William'(1998) paper "Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards Through Classroom Assessment" (Phi Delta Kappan, October 1998) points out that high quality formative assessment has a powerful impact on student learning, and that formative assessment is particularly effective for students who have not done well in school, narrowing the gap between low and high achievers while raising overall achievement. Allowing students to build their scientific understandings by interpreting data sets will strengthen their ability to use scientific data and provide the instructor with an array of opportunities to use the data sets in formative assessment. For example,

At the end of several weeks, students will see that most, but not all earthquakes they have plotted are at the edges of the tectonic plates. You can increase the complexity of the interactive lecture activity by asking students to also plot depth of the earthquakes using pens of different color. Use an arbitrary depth such as 5 kilometers to differentiate between "shallow" and "deep" earthquakes. Then, prior to teaching plate tectonic concepts (e.g. the relative thicknesses of oceanic versus continental crust) the instructor can refer students to their physiographic charts to determine what the data suggests in terms of the relative thicknesses of continental versus oceanic crust.

More Examples

Minute Papers/ConcepTests- The example provided above is not the only way to assess interactive lectures. Other strategies that increase the interaction between students and the instructor are Minute Papers (more info) and ConcepTests (more info) . Student may either work together to answer these questions, or individual responses may be graded. Whatever method is chosen, long term incremental assesssment of interactive lectures will make it more likely that students will have had repeated opportunities to interact with and learn essential geoscience concepts.


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