Contingent Pedagogies: Best Practices in Formative Assessment | SRI International

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Contingent Pedagogies for Conceptual Teaching and Learning

Improving classroom assessment can be a powerful way to improve student achievement. To realize gains, teachers must use assessments formatively—that is, to adjust and improve instruction.

It is not enough for teachers to collect assessment data; what and how teachers teach must be contingent on what assessments tell them about what their students know and can do. Yet studies have indicated that teachers have trouble adjusting their instruction in response to assessment data.

The Contingent Pedagogies project is creating better classroom assessment tools to improve instruction. SRI researchers have worked collaboratively with teachers to develop and study a suite of tools that support formative assessment in middle-grade Earth systems science. The tools support assessment of important ideas found in national science frameworks and in the Investigating Earth Systems curriculum materials. These tools include:

  1. A set of pedagogical patterns that support teachers in following the essential steps in effective formative assessment
  2. A set of questions that elicit student ideas at the beginning of units of study and check student understanding at the end
  3. Classroom sets of student response systems (or “clickers”) that enable all students to respond to questions and that provide rapid feedback to teachers and students
  4. A list of classroom norms that can infuse and inform teachers’ use of pedagogical patterns and that support the social practice of scientific argumentation in classrooms
  5. A repertoire of discussion moves intended to support teachers in orchestrating discussion of students’ responses to questions.

As part of the project, SRI is conducting a quasi-experimental study of the impacts of the tools on teaching and learning.