Q & A :
Book Review: Brookfield revamps his classic
* ANGEL 7 is coming!
* Schreyer Box Lunch sessions
September/October 2006 :
Preparing for the First Day
: Faculty Roles in Student Retention
April 2006 : Using Discussion Boards Effectively
Suzanne C. Shaffer, M.Ed.
Penn State York
IM: PSU York ID
Volume 1 Issue 5 November/December 2006
Teaching and Learning at Penn State
Teaching Tips, Ideas, Resources, What's
Mid-term is here and as a result, assessment
is on our minds. This issue of the newsletter will examine several different
aspects of assessment including:
- AAHE's Principles of Good Practice for Assessing
- Outcomes Assessment: an Introduction
- Classroom Assessment Techniques
- Technology & Assessment
- Assessment of Learning Spaces
In addition, this issue contains:
- Book Review: Stephen Brookfield's
classic, The Skillful Teacher, is revamped for a second edition
- ANGEL 7 is coming May 2007 with
significant changes to the look and feel of ANGEL - What can you expect
from the changes?
- Q & A - Is open-book testing a valid
assessment method for undergraduate courses?
- Upcoming fall workshops
Assessment is such a large topic that deciding what to cover is a challenge.
With that said, there are certainly topics that are moving towards the front
of our consciousness in terms of institutional and classroom practices. This
issue will include information on:
best practices for assessing student learning; how outcomes assessment
differs from other types of assessment practices; formal and informal
testing practices; the role of technology in
assessment management; and assessing learning spaces relative to student
learning and engagement.
Return to Top
Q & A
Open-book testing, or closed; that is the question...
I was recently asked
what I thought about the validity of using open-book exams in undergraduate
classes. The question revolved around the notion that students are learning
in an age where
they need to not only develop background knowledge, but also develop skills
to manage and use information in efficient and effective ways. Does the memorization of facts and
figures still have a role to play in our educational practice?
This challenging series of questions/thoughts generated some great conversations
about the nature and purpose of undergraduate education including:
1. What is the nature
and purpose of an undergraduate education and its relationship to assessment
practices? While critical thinking and higher-order thinking skills
(analysis, synthesis, evaluation) are definitely developed during the
undergraduate education, certainly knowledge building is also required. A
firm knowledge base (vocabulary, historical background and framework, and
other fact-based knowledge bits and pieces) is required before students can
start to build on that foundation with higher-order applications. Open-book
assessment might not necessarily show instructors that students have mastered that base knowledge.
2. How do the types of
assessments used, impact how students study? Often, there is a
direct correlation. If you want students to show you that they know the
facts before you move onto more critical thinking activities, multiple
choice quizzes and tests are a good way to ensure that they have spent some
time with the factual basis for the course. This is, of course, not where
you want to end up in terms of learning, but it is a good place to start.
Higher-order thinking skills build on the factual base. The good news is
that ANGEL quizzes can automate much of this process for you and your
students. Use ANGEL quizzes for self-testing and low-stakes testing to allow
you and your students to monitor their learning progress with factual
3. What are your
learning outcomes for your students? Always strive to align the assessment
type to the learning outcome. Usually part of the learning outcome is an
increase in knowledge about the subject. Use closed-book quizzes for
fact-based knowledge. Exams that require more analysis and application
of the factual information can then have that open-book style, requiring the
application and or synthesis of the learned factual information.
deliberation, my initial thought remained - there is a factual base that students need to actually
memorize and know,
and they acquire that knowledge base (along with many other skills) in their undergraduate classes.
Assessment types drive the way that students study. If you want students to
have a fluency with your content, begin with closed-book testing of facts.
Then move into assessment types that require students to apply and
manipulate the knowledge they have acquired.
Thanks for the question!
Banta, T.W., Lund, J. P., Black, K.E., &
Oblander, F.W. (1996). Assessment in practice: Putting principles to work on
college campuses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Return to Top
Teacher: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom, 2nd
by Stephen D. Brookfield
Brookfield has updated this classic text
for the September 2006 release to include new sections about on-line
learning, diversity, and understanding contemporary students. View the
TOC and read an excerpt from the book
This text provides sound advice on such
- Understanding contemporary classrooms
- What students value in teachers
- Lecturing creatively
- Preparing students for discussion
- Giving helpful evaluations
- Responding to resistance
- Surviving emotionally
- Responding to the politics of teaching
- Teaching online
In the opening chapter, Brookfield compares
teaching to the uncertainty of white-water rafting. Teaching is a complex
act with interspersed periods of exhilaration, success, and seeming defeat.
He urges teachers to value their own experiences in the classroom and to
draw upon them in critically reflective ways in order to understand and
improve upon their teaching practice.
Return to Top
ANGEL 7 is coming - May 2007
While the functionality isn't changing that
much, the look and feel of the ANGEL interface is changing significantly.
Take a look at this screen shot of the new ANGEL "dashboard" with the
Content manager open within a course.
Overview sessions will be
scheduled in early Spring 2007. I am told that a practice server will be in
place at some point for faculty to get a feel for the new interface. As a
campus, our challenge will be the timing of the transition, which is
tentatively scheduled to take place at the end of the UP semester. We will,
however, have already begun our Summer I session. Talking to other IDs who
have gone through this process before, they are recommending that faculty,
interested in using ANGEL with their courses in Summer I, keep the course
set-up simple until after the transition is completed. As more
recommendations are made clear, I will pass them along to you.
One-Stop-Shop Location for Teaching Resources
Don't forget the teaching & learning resources
pages and workshop listing. You'll
find the site at:
There are links to discussions, teaching
resources, and other items of interest, arranged topically for easy
navigation. You can also find this page by going to the Faculty/Staff
pages on the PSY webpage, and clicking on the Teaching Resources
link, then the Teaching & Learning Resources link.
Schreyer Box Lunch Series: Academic Integrity: Promoting an Environment
of Trust in the Classroom - 11/14/2006 - MCB 31B 12-1:30 via Polycom - Lunch
is provided. However, you MUST register for the event at
Page 1 2