Classroom Assessment in Fifth Grade Science

6 June 2016

A study was conducted to explore the hypothesis that performance assessments foster a more positive motivational orientation for students than supplied-response assessments which tend to truncate students’ learning strategies (Parkes & Stefanou, 2003).

This was in response to general dissatisfaction arising from large-scale, high-stakes multiple choice testing, particularly among the older students who experienced higher levels of anxiety and mistrust with respect to standardized tests.  It partook of a cost-benefit analysis of the consequences of this particular type of assessment procedure to determine whether the positive outweighed the negative.

Classroom Assessment in Fifth Grade Science Essay Example

Traditional paper and pencil tests (P&P), a laboratory task format of assessment (lab), and a performance assessment (PA) were imposed on three different fifth grade science classes, particularly involving Goal Orientations to supply quantitative data.  Qualitative output was also obtained through taped interviews of the three classes.  Quantitatively, goal orientation seemed to be influenced by the type of assessment used.

When paired with the qualitative data, students seemed to perform well in P&P testing because they equated a good grade with competence and ability, and they believed that performing well in P&P testing reflected this competency (Parkes & Stefanou, 2003).  However, if receiving grades was removed from the equation, students became more receptive to PA testing and were motivated to take risks and explore actually doing science rather than just knowing science (Parkes & Stefanou, 2003).

One of the limitations of the study was that qualitative information was necessary to complete the picture presented by the quantitative data.  Although the study was by no means definitive as to whether or not assessment types contributed to student motivation, it clearly showed that when paired with the stakes or consequences attributed to the assessment results, it affects the students’ goal orientations.

Reference List

Parkes, J. and Stefanou, C. (2003). Effects of classroom assessment on student motivation on fifth-grade science. The Journal of Educational Research, 96 (3), 152-162.

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