Academic journal article College Student Journal

Appraising Learner Progress in the Social Studies

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Appraising Learner Progress in the Social Studies

Article excerpt

Many changes have occurred in techniques used to appraise pupil achievement in social studies. Teachers, supervisors, and principals need to stay abreast of new procedures. Why? With the use of diverse approaches, the teacher may be in a better position to notice progress of Individual pupils and then plan for sequential learning in the social studies. Diagnosis and remediation involve evaluation and the results should be used to assist each pupil to attain more optimally.

A more traditional approach in the appraisal process has been to use standardized achievement texts. These are norm referenced tests and provide results which spread pupils out on a continuum, from high to low, in a classroom, pupils' results from taking a norm referenced test may range from the first to the ninety-ninth percentile. Comparisons among pupils and between schools as well as states may then be made of learner achievement.

There are no objectives for teachers to use in teaching when referring to standardized tests. Objectives, carefully chosen, provide direction and guidance to the teacher in what is to be taught as well as what is to be learned by pupils.

To take care of some of these deficiencies, criterion referenced tests (CRTs) were developed. The CRTs had statements of objectives that aligned with the test items. Learning opportunities were chosen by the teacher to assist pupils to achieve the stated objectives of instruction. The appraisal procedures measured what pupils had learned. Validity of the test items was then in evidence. If adequate pilot studies had been made of the CRT, reliability might also have been determined, be it test/retest, split half, or alternative forms of reliability. However, the purpose of CRTS was not to spread pupils out from high to low In terms of test results, but rather to guide pupils to achieve the objectives of instruction. There are states and schools that still give standardized tests to pupils to measure progress, at selected intervals. CRTS are more common and are given every few years to pupils as they progress through the public school years. Approximately, three/fourths of the states in the United States measure pupil progress in selected grades to report pupil achievement to the lay public. CRTs have several weaknesses. These weaknesses are the following:

1. It is a one shot approach in one or more school years in attempting to show pupil progress as they go through the public school years. It is vital that pupils do extremely well at that time, since the results are reported to the lay public. Parents and the lay public may place much credence upon CRT results to the point that daily work in evaluation of pupil progress is not considered.

2. the CRT may have been written hastily with inadequate or no pilot studies made. In pilot studies of a CRT, weak items may be rewritten or weeded out, as item analysis studies of that CRT indicate.

3. the CRT may not be properly aligned with the stated objectives. Thus, validity goes by the wayside.

4. studies of reliability may not have been made in a pilot study to notice how consistently the test measures.

5. trivia, rather than relevance, may be inherent in the test items written.

Appraisal procedures used should be studied and revised as the need arises. New procedures on evaluating pupil progress also need to be in evidence (EdIger, 1988).

Journal Writing by Pupils

In each unit of study, pupils should have ample opportunities to write in their journals. In social studies lessons and units of study, pupils may write individually or collaboratively. The entries may tell about what was learned in terms of subject matter content. The entries written need to be reviewed to retain for a longer period of time that which had been learned. Journal entries may also reflect impressions gained by learners. Feelings may become a part of journal writing. …

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