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Post game analysis for assessments

August 30, 2011

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.

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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.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 31, 2011 3:17 pm

    Dear Mr. Burk,
    I have never been much of a fan of the ever so popular theory that we are our worst critics. I happen to feel that we are the best critics the world has to offer us. It is amazing the potential that is reached when one steps back for a second in self reflection and asks themselves what could have been done differently to embrace a topic fully even when a task is done perfectly, as you ask in question 2 of the analysis. It is important in life to always keep in mind that there is constantly room for improvement. Along side recognizing change is needed, it is also imperative that a plan is devised on how these changes can be met. Doing this activity weekly conditions students and provides a chance for this practice to become habitual in every aspect of their lives.

    Perhaps the most enriching aspect of your post game analysis is the chance the students are given to take control of their education. It has recently been brought to my attention by a professor of mine how much more valuable a student’s education will be to them when an instructor acts more as a coach than a teacher. It has been my experience that we as humans tend to value and take care of our belongings with much more care and ease than we do had someone else given us that tangible object. After much contemplation, I feel this same concept can be applied to education. Students may become frustrated because the correct answer to problems missed was not given to them. This causes an influx of time spent and hard work put forth on their behalf to decipher the appropriate response. In the end the subject area in which all this time and effort was invested is one the student has become intimate with and likely never to forget. It seems to me the thirty minutes or so devoted out of class time once a week is thirty minutes that could not otherwise be afforded to miss out on. I look forward to asking myself these same questions and applying your post game analysis strategy as I continue on my educational path.

    Sincerely,
    Ashley Haddock
    EDM 310 Student
    University of South Alabama

    • September 1, 2011 11:21 pm

      Ashley,
      Thanks so much. I hope that my students begin to see assessment and PGA as you do. If you’re reading blogs and participating in the education community on twitter as a education student, I think you’re setting yourself up very well for an enriching career.

  2. September 1, 2011 4:33 am

    Totally agree with the importance of self-reflection about one’s own learning, and especially with respect on how to improve in the future. Currently I only do this type of reflection at the end of a science unit with my students, but obviously that doesn’t offer the same benefits as reflections along the wayStreamlining this process is really the key though, and I’m interested to hear about how you do this more efficiently in the future. I would expect it would streamlining to occur as students become more familiar with the process, but maybe further changes would be necessary to make it more efficient.

    Could this type of reflection be done outside the classroom? While that would save time, you would lose the collaborative element.

    • September 1, 2011 11:22 pm

      Nick,
      I think it might be possisble to do some of this self reflection at home, and I plan to give that a shot at some point. But a lot of what I want my students to do is be able to collaborate with one another, and this is less easy to do outside of class.

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