Ch. 8 Personal Communication as Classroom Assessment

This chapter discusses personal communication as classroom assessment.  I have to be honest and say that I am a little skeptical about using personal communication as assessment.  I think I’m more inclined to use this as an assessment tool for formative assessments and for very specific circumstances.

This method of assessment is great for collecting information about knowledge, reasoning, skills and mastery of foreign language.  Some ways of assessment for personal communication:  instructional question and answer, conferences and interviews, classroom discussions, oral examinations, journals, logs.

Brief summary of each methods:

  1. Instructional question and answer is what we would do as teachers when we are teaching a lesson.  This will be in the form of the teacher asking the whole class or an individual a question.  This could also happen between students.
  2. Class discussions is when students are engaged in a discussion with the teacher as their guide.  With much practice a student can also be the guide or the lead of the discussion.
  3. Conference and interviews are when the teacher is one-on-one with a student to have a conversation about their learning.
  4. Oral examination is a question and answer between a teacher and a student.
  5. Journals and logs are written forms of communication.

Some helpful notes from the chapter:

  • When using question and answer for assessment, preparing the questions in advance is helpful.  I personally use a lot of questioning to elicit thinking in the students and to gauge student understanding during my day-to-day lesson.  When I have sufficient time, I have all the students participate in answering my question by writing on their whiteboard.  This is a fantastic formative assessment tool and I use it to pace my lesson.
  • Model good questioning and answering to the students.  Teach students good thinking phrases to engage with the questions.  E.g. This is not logical because…., This method is easier because….
  • On page 273, there’s an awesome questioning guide by Johnston
    • To help students notice and learn:
    • Did anyone notice that…?
    • Remember how you used…what’s different?
    • What kind of…is this?
    • What….surprised you?
    • To establish student control:
    • How did you figure that out?
    • What problems did you come across today?
    • How are you planning to go about this?
    • What parts are you sure (not sure) about?
    • To help students transfer:
    • How else…?
    • What’s that like?
    • What if things changed…?
    • To help students confirm knowing:
    • How do you know we got this right?
    • I hadn’t thought about it that way.  How did you know?
    • How could we check?
    • Would you agree with that?
  • For interview/conference assessment, ensure that the students know the purpose of the conference/interview and allow them to prepare in advance.  Also, giving students ample response time is crucial with this type of assessment.
  • When using journaling or logging, it is important to have some tools to trigger deeper thinking and response.  E.g. An agreed upon symbol for a certain type of thinking/response.

Using personal communication as an assessment tool is something that happens daily in my classroom and a crucial part of my formative assessment.  It allows me to get a snapshot of student learning in my daily lesson and it helps me to plan the course of my lesson as it gives me information that guides me to make adjustments.

I’m not so convinced about using this form of assessment for a summative assessment.  It is very time-consuming and inefficient.  However, I have seen cases where a student has to have an oral examination because of many learning difficulties.  In cases like this I know that personal communication is the most effective method for summative assessment.

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