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STEM Assessment Landscape

In this video, two of our content experts share their thoughts on the changing landscape in STEM assessment.

Where does content end and assessment begin? STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Assessment is by its nature multi-faceted. Truly authentic STEM assessments ideally depend upon a rich stimulus (a scenario, a passage, an animation, a video) that presents content the student hasn’t seen before. This allows them to apply their knowledge in a new context. That’s a critical element of assessing career and college readiness, because today’s agile workplace changes quickly and people often don’t have time for proper training.

Another approach is to present familiar content but with critical details missing. This is the principle that makes many kinds of puzzles so satisfying. Alternatively, you can hide the core ideas in a mass of details. That’s the principle behind many white papers [cue in the laughter soundtrack].

In developing English Language Arts assessments, a critical initial phase is passage development. This is an artistic process, akin to solving a puzzle, because there are many variables to satisfy. It helps to have options — using commissioned passages (a writer creates original work) or permissioned passages (a researcher finds a suitable excerpt from existing authentic literature). There also is an art to identifying good passages that lend themselves to a variety of questions and cognitive tasks that are grade appropriate.

In math and science, we see the same trend — crafting a good stimulus is half the battle. A good stimulus does not have everything buttoned up in a nice neat package, but offers multiple avenues for the student to explore.

Developing good assessments is truly an art form, which brings us back to the email we sent out, asking “How much information do you need to recognize a work of art?”

Click on the detail to see the complete work of art.

Click on the image to see the entire landscape.

Was this puzzler too easy? It probably depends on your background. We’d love to hear your thoughts on how to best develop assessments with multiple correct answers, assessments that hit the right balance of giving information without giving away the answers. We welcome your Comments!

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