Post game analysis for assessments
This year, I’ve started a policy of giving my students an assessment every friday (like most good ideas, I got this idea from Kelly O’Shea). Assessments will vary in length between 10 minutes and a full class period, but the point is that every week, students will get a chance to fly solo and demonstrate what they understand on an assessment.
Perhaps more importantly that the weekly assessments however, is what I’ve decided to start doing on Monday. Each Monday, we’re going to start the class with a post game analysis. I introduced the idea today by talking about our Football team’s narrow loss during the first game, to a very strong opponent who happened to have two nationally recruited players on the team. We talked about what the team is doing today—watching film, and it very well may be that they might spend twice as much time watching film as they did playing football, and the point all this post game analysis is to actively seek out ways to improve.
We also talked about the effects of this loss—does losing your first game to a non-conference opponent really affect your chances of winning the championship? No. Should the player who dropped the potentially game winning catch feel like a failure? Of course not. And what if that player did carry that sense of failure into the next game? How might that affect his performance? Even more importantly, why do many coaches hope that their teams will suffer losses early in the season?
All of this was a lead in to the idea that even though you just took an assessment (which students read as a test), it is crippling to view a mistake on the first assessment as some predetermination that you are doomed to fail physics, or that a bad grade now might prevent you from getting the grade or any other goal you desire in the future. In fact, it is far better to think that we don’t yet have enough data to determine your grade, and SBG gives you an almost endless number of opportunities to demonstrate understanding, so that mistake you made yesterday can literally disappear.
With this big pep talk in mind, the most important and immediate goal is to do some careful analysis of one’s assessment to find bright spots to build upon and troubleshoot weaknesses/mistakes. And at the same time, we need to remember that not everyone wants to broadcast his/her performance to the world, so we need to work to end the “what did you get” competitive culture in class that makes some students feel uncomfortable and distracts us from the real goal of learning.
At this point, I told students they’d need to record their scores on a score sheet to be kept in a folder in the classroom, and complete the following post game analysis handout. I also asked them to contribute suggestions collective wisdom on the whiteboard in the front of the room.
Then I set the clock for 15 minutes and set the students off to collaborate with one another. Students then set off to work with one another to solve problems they missed and check their reasoning with peers. 15 minutes later, every student reported a significantly increased understanding, and our whiteboard contained a number of excellent suggestions for improvement. I was also deeply impressed with the thought students put into the post game analysis write-ups, particularly given the limited time they had to work.
Overall, I think this will be a useful addition to our work, but I’m going to need to work on streamlining things a bit so that we don’t have to give up so much time to this task each Monday.