Yarnall, L., Penuel, W. R., Ravitz, J., Murray, G., Means, B., & Broom, M. (2003). Portable assessment authoring: Using handheld technology to assess collaborative inquiry. Education, Communication, Information, 3 (1), 7-55.
This article reports on pilot studies of teachers and students using handheld computers to assess the quality of a complex, hard-to-measure classroom activity: student group work. The work describes the evolution of the prototype software through an 18-month design process involving one upper elementary classroom and two middle school classrooms. Teachers and students used a research-based collaboration assessment rubric over a series of classroom sessions and discussed aggregated results presented in different table and bar chart formats. Study found that teachers and students could use handheld computers for assessments easily and their use did not disrupt the flow of classroom activity. Discussions about aggregated data appeared to support classroom consensus and awareness of social norms for productive group work. Future work would need to focus on making assessment rubric’s language more oriented toward teachers’ goals for assessment of group work.