The Effect of Using Alternative Assessment Activities on Students' Success and Attitudes in Science and Technology Course

By Kirikkaya, Esma Bulus; Vurkaya, Gurbet | Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri, Spring 2011 | Go to article overview

The Effect of Using Alternative Assessment Activities on Students' Success and Attitudes in Science and Technology Course


Kirikkaya, Esma Bulus, Vurkaya, Gurbet, Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri


Abstract

The pre-test and post-test quasi-experimental design with control group was used in this study, in which the impact of alternative assessment activities on students' academic achievement levels and attitudes were explored by employing these activities in the unit "Electricity in Our Lives" of the Science and Technology Course. The research was carried out in three elementary schools in the city of Kocaeli, which exhibited three different levels of success in the SBS (National Level Determination Exam). The academic achievement test, which was one of the data collection tools of the study, was developed by the researchers and its reliability was found to be .85. A Likert-type scale, whose reliability was found to be .96, was employed in order to measure students' attitudes towards science. In addition, 14 alternative assessment activities were used in the study, which were developed by the researchers and composed of structural communication grid, diagnostic tree and predict-observeexplain activities. According to the findings of the research, a significant difference was found between the experimental and the control groups with respect to science attitudes and achievement in the favor of the experimental groups. A generally positive correlation was found between the mean scores that the students in the experimental group got from the activities and their achievement pre-test-post-test scores.

Key Words

Science and Technology Course, alternative Assessment Activities, Structural Communication Grid, Diagnostic Tree, Predict-Observe-Explain.

Osborne and Wittrock (1983) underlined that the knowledge a student or an individual possesses is of importance for responding new information. This opinion was based to constructivist learning approach. Brooks and Brooks (1999) suggested that the student works actively in this process to construct knowledge and that she/he has selfcontrol (cited in Hançer, 2006). In an educational environment in which students actively seek to construct knowledge, it is not enough to use only the conventional assessment approaches. Students either interpret the new situation or prefer to undertake regulations again in the event that structuring is not meaningful. (Brooks & Brooks, 1993).

Colburn (2000), effectively using the principles of the constructivist approach, makes some suggestions for the teaching of science and technology. First one is the inquiry method of the central of teaching science, second one, is to encourage collaborative learning in class, and the last one is importance of questions asked in classroom.

Alternative assessment approaches are used to assess students' knowledge and skills, and they are different from conventional methods. Alternative assessment is a philosophy and it is goal-oriented. Alternative assessment generally emerged out of a practice connected to an educational reform and of a new quest (Donovan, Larson, Stechschulte, & Taft 2002; McMillan 2001; Settlage, 2004). Stone (1990) argued that new practices and strategies are needed for the selection of a good assessment method, and underlined the importance of using alternative assessment methods instead of conventional ones.

In their studies, Herman, Aschbacher and Winters (1992) listed the common features of alternative evaluation as enabling students to do something new, to develop their higher thinking skill on the basis of comprehension, to solve problems, to take responsibility and to undertake tasks, to have a real world interaction and to make more coherent decisions, i.e. to make a better evaluation (cited in Corcoran, Dershimer, & Tichenor, 2004). In their studies, Conradie and Frith (2000) and Bol, Ross, Nunnery and Alberg (2002) maintained that the use of alternative methods would make evaluation flexible and yield positive results.

The structural communication grid (SCG) technique, which is among alternative assessment activities, is an assessment technique aiming at revealing students' cognitive structures and is composed of small boxes. …

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