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An Update on my Checklist for Assessment Design

In my Assessment Design Checklist, I’ve changed the wording for item #4:

4. Does this asssessment ask students to reflect on their understanding?

And I’ve added a final checklist item:

5. Does this assessment give students the opportunity to learn from each other?

The addition of these last two checklist items, which can be grouped together as self- and peer-learning (or awkwardly as non-teacher learning), represent a fundamental shift in my understanding of how to teach computer science. My previous assumption is that students would learn best from their own coding and debugging experience; but now I understand how important both student reflection on computational concepts in code and engaging with other students in analysis and explication of each other’s code will develop much needed understanding and computational verbal skills.

Recent research by Lui, Walker, Hanna, Kafai, Fields, & Jayathirtha (2020) showed the potential that portfolios have as a vehicles for self- and group-reflection of computational artifacts and programs. In the absence of specific guidelines, student written explanation of portfolio artifacts ranged from vague to detailed; provision of targeted questions and guidelines should result in better discourse around computational concepts.

I am eager to develop those targeted questions and guidelines. My initial ideas involve presenting examples of explanations of code and highlighting what makes for a good example so that students understand what to say and how to say it well. I would also like to model student interactions with each other as well so that my students understand how to explain their code to each other and then offer meaningful feedback to one another.

I do have some reservations about how exciting–or boring–this process might be. Anyone have ideas for how to make peer interactions around explaining code to one other fun and engaging?

References

Lui, D., Walker, J. T., Hanna, S., Kafai, Y. B., Fields, D., & Jayathirtha, G. (2020). Communicating computational concepts and practices within highschool students’ portfolios of making electronic textiles. Interactive Learning Environments, 28(3),284-301. https://doi.org/10.1080/10494820.2019.1612446

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