Assessment Informs Instruction

By Anderson, Andy; Goode, Robert | JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, March 1997 | Go to article overview

Assessment Informs Instruction


Anderson, Andy, Goode, Robert, JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


Systematic and regular assessment should become an integral part of the instructional process (Sperling 1994; Wittrock, 1991). End-of-the-unit tests are not always positioned to help teachers make strategic decisions about future lessons (Stiggins, 1988). On the other hand, assessments conducted before and intermittently throughout the instructional unit can be used as diagnostic tools to make decisions about what and how to teach skills in physical education (Wiggins, 1993). Assessment, used to streamline and customize skills instruction, can play a central role in determining what students need to progress toward. Students aware of performance expectations are better able to self-monitor their performances at school and on the playground. Accordingly, students taught how to assume more responsibility for their learning outcomes may, in turn, try harder and longer, and feel more confident about their achievements.

Motor skills form the foundations for a variety of recreational play, leisure, and sport activities at school, at home, and in the community. During the early and adolescent years of development, it is important for students to learn and to refine fundamental motor skills. Students are eager to accomplish these movement challenges, and few other organized activities compete for students' time and attention. Programs that neglect to teach fundamental skills may deny children the best chance they will ever have for skill attainment because there are few analogous skill development programs for adults (Graham, 1991). For these reasons, fundamental motor skill instruction and the qualitative assessment of these skills are an important part of the physical education program.

What can teachers and students learn about skills and students' performance patterns from assessment and evaluation? How might the results influence the way skills are taught? In particular, what features of a skill are students able to learn (meet criterion performance) on their own? If students need instruction on only one or two key features of performance in order to meet a particular standard, how should these skills be taught? How should information about skills be presented to promote self-regulated learning?

In this article, we discuss two fundamental motor skills that were studied in a project focused on motor skill competency: running (for speed) and the instep (soccer-type) kick. Specifically, we report: (1) the procedures used to gather the data, (2) the criteria used to assess skill proficiency, (3) the results across grades 3, 6, 9, and 12, (4) the observations made from the data, and (5) the implications these findings have for what and how to teach these skills. Finally, we provide some ideas on how to involve students in the ongoing assessment of progress.

The methods and instruments used in the study and the instructional responses that arose to give readers a sense of how assessment, instruction, and student learning might interact are described. According to Kim, McLean, & Iran-Nejad (1996), "Much attention has been paid to teaching, testing, and learning as individual constructs. The substantial interrelationships among these three constructs has been largely ignored." We contend that it is important to show how assessment activities; for example, testing and the interpretation of results, might be linked coherently and creatively to instructional inputs and opportunities for student learning. Other practitioner-researchers might consider alternative ways to conduct the study using the same instruments and they might generate alternative responses to the findings. The assessment process should generate not only reliable and valid responses but also creative responses to findings. As we conducted the study and prepared an instructional response to the results, we asked ourselves what would be a reasonable, appropriate, and practical approach to assessment and evaluation that practitioners might use to generate insights about students' needs and abilities and that they might use to relate to broader goals such as self-directed learning.

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