Monday, June 16, 2014

Transformative Assessment: The Mt. Everest Scenario Set Up--Brick and Mortar School--Part I

In the last post I explained some of the rationale behind the idea of setting up and administering tests in which student collaboration is part of the design. The reason behind the idea of this type of paradigm shift is that in order for our students to become change agents and creators of new knowledge and skills, teachers have to play a new role as activators and mentors. Seamlessly incorporating this idea into our education systems will help develop a generation of innovative young people and nurture a culture of innovation which will bring about solutions to many real world problems and issues.

Credit: DigitalArt

The Mount Everest scenario that I posed as a potential test question would not qualify technically as the real world issue or problem that we want students to work collaboratively to come up with solutions for. It is provided here as a simple example to show how a test based on collaboration among students might be structured.

Taking look at how this may be setup, we have to look at two different scenes:

  1. Set up in a brick and mortar school, and
  2. Set up in a a totally online education scene

Credit: Goram Hoglund (Kartlasarn)

A/ Brick and Mortar School:

Introduction: It is assumed that before this type of assessment has been introduced that the curriculum that is in place is one that emphasizes cross disciplinary learning. What this means is that the method of compartmentalizing subjects has been replaced by with a curriculum that focuses on subject groupings according to what may be described as a symbiotic relationship that has been identified among subjects. For example, grouping Science, Mathematics and perhaps Geography might be one such grouping due to the complementary skill sets that are identified among them. The primary focus of such a grouping would be to create learning experiences that draw upon the concepts and skill sets that speak to the the solution of real world issues and problems. Another such subject grouping might be History, English and Logic. Cross discipline learning is the emphasis here.

Student Tools: For the test, students will need to have use of the following technology:

  • Ipads or some other computer tablet (ie: Android based), or laptop depending upon the resources of the hosting school
  • Wireless access to the Internet (this should be high speed access!)
  • Use of Google Apps in order to work collaboratively. Google docs with access to Lucid Chart will be helpful
  • A unique password for students to access their test. Students would be working in collaborative groups of three BUT their partners will not be physically in the same room with them. This will negate the temptation to verbally discuss things which would disrupt the testing atmosphere.
Selection of Student Partners: The selection of student partners is to be done randomly but following some specific criteria. It is at this point that "big data" becomes most beneficial. One of the items for consideration when grouping deals with the average operating achievement level of the students. For example, we use to talk about students in categories of being good " A, B, C or D" level students. This had been determined based up on the educators seeing a pattern in the quality of individual student's work.Using big data, we can now be more precise in groupings. One thing that needs to be avoided at all costs is partnering together of students from the extremes in this continuum.

Test Directions to Students: The following points should be part of the directions to the students:

  • In this test, you will be required to work collaboratively with two other partners that have been randomly selected for you. Your partners and you will communicate over the Internet using your tablets. You will not have access to any other student groups except your own. You will need to discuss who in your group would be best to handle the mathematics needed to solve the problem; who would be best suited to look after the human biological aspects for the solution and so on. One member must serve as group leader or mentor.
  • During the test, you and your partners will have access to the resources of the Internet and Google Apps. Also, you need to gain access to real world weather telemetry for the Himilayas which can be found on the Internet which can have a dramatic effect on your solution process.
  • This test is made up of a primary collaborative scenario and a secondary collaborative scenario( in other words, there are only 2 problems in this test.). In this test, the primary collaborative scenario deals with when and how a teams should climb Mount Everest. You and your partners are the ones who prepare the plan for the team and give the GO signal.

Credit: Kristin


  • Your solution must explain the following: (a) How did you use mathematics in coming up with your solution? You must provide the mathematical reasoning in your solution complete with your calculations that provide a mathematical point of view of choosing the right route up Everest? (b) How did you use the sciences of human Biology, Meteorology and Physics to provide a physical and natural science point of view needed in order to provide a more informed view of the problem of ascending Mount Everest?
  • Your test is a timed test and the time will always be visible in digital form on your problem screen. It will let you know how much time remains until test end.
  • When you think you have an effective solution complete with appropriate calculations, your solution will be inputted into a computer simulation of the climb and the simulation run so that you can see it on your screen. If all climbers make it to the summit, your solution will be deemed a success. If they do not survive, then you and your team members must go back examine your proposed solution and analyze what went wrong and come up with a creative solution by collaboration. Always keep in mind your time constraints.
  • You will then be taken to Scenario #2, which will be completely unfamiliar to you and you will then need to apply what you have learned in the previous scenario to the new real world problem. For example, you might need to come up with a solution for ascending Olympus Mons on Mars for NASA.
Next posting: Applying Transformative Assessment  to obtain real world recognition for students solutions in the brick and mortar school scenario.....

No comments: