Rugby 2013

Embedding assessment in your teaching

Science Education Group

The University of York

Professor Robin Millar and Mary Whitehouse

Research evidence and professional experience suggests that the two principal keys to effective learning are:

1) Having clear and precise learning outcomes in mind for every teaching episode

2) Monitoring students’ learning during the teaching process, so that the teacher and the student can immediately act on what is found out.

The group are working with science teachers to develop a variety of resources that can elicit evidence of student learning of important ideas across the sciences at Key Stage 3.

The talk began with a demonstration. A beaker of water sits on a top-pan balance. The reading on the balance 244.0g

image  image

The above picture shows Professor Millar demonstrating the experiment.

A steel bolt is then hung from a clamp stand so that it is fully immersed but not touching the beaker.

What will happen to the reading on the top-pan balance:

A. It will increase

B. It will stay the same

C. It will decrease

Once the bolt was suspended in the water the reading on the top-pan balance became 251.2g. So the answer is A. Are you surprised?

Dylan William has produced some important work about embedding assessment in teaching.

What factors have the greatest impact on learning outcomes?

A synthesis of meta-analyses of individual research studies has shown:

Providing formative evaluation gives an improvement in learning of 0.9;

Providing feedback gives an improvement in learning of 0.73;

Questioning gives an improvement in learning of 0.46;

Spaced vs mass practice gives an improvement in learning of 0.71;

Direct instruction gives an improvement in learning of 0.59.

1) Before the lesson is prepared, the teacher should have a clear idea of what the learning intentions are.

2) The teacher needs to know what success criteria of performance are to be expected.

The York science project has a manifesto about what students should gain from their science lessons.


Remember the bolt in the beaker. Which do you think is the right answer in the list below? I think it is C. Am I right?


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