The value of pre-assessment

El valor de la evaluación diagnóstica

Elena Vizurraga es la Directora de Estudios en Hiram Bingham, The British International School of Lima, Perú

La autora explica cómo las tareas de pre-evaluación pueden usarse para retar apropiadamente y permitir a cada alumno extender sus comprensiones.

Todos sabemos que la evaluación debe permitir a nuestros estudiantes conocerse mejor como aprendices, reflexionar sobre su aprendizaje y establecer metas para seguir avanzando. Evaluamos para informar el aprendizaje, lo que finalmente nos lleva a promoverlo.

En este contexto, la evaluación diagnóstica abarca la recopilación de información acerca de lo que nuestros estudiantes saben, comprenden y pueden hacer antes de iniciar un nuevo periodo de aprendizaje. Si no anticipamos sus actuales niveles de dominio sobre los aprendizajes esperados, difícilmente los ayudaremos a avanzar desde donde se encuentran.

Learning centres x2

Los estudiantes trabajaron en diferentes centros para clarificar algunas ideas iniciales y profundizar sus comprensiones.

Imaginen que un médico llega a su consultorio y encuentra diez pacientes esperándolo. Sin saber quién es quién y por qué están allí, les entrega a todos el mismo medicamento y la misma dosis, por el mismo período de tiempo. ¿Qué pasaría con las necesidades y dificultades de cada uno de sus pacientes? ¿Cuántos de ellos no solo no se curarían sino que hasta empezarían a sufrir problemas de salud aún peores? Del mismo modo, un maestro que no averigua qué conocimientos previos y qué niveles de comprensión actuales tienen sus estudiantes, estaría perdiendo tiempo precioso o peor aún, estaría posiblemente profundizando algunas dificultades en el aprendizaje.

Las personas aprenden cuando son capaces de conectar los nuevos conocimientos con el conocimiento existente. Si no nos tomamos tiempo para explorar cuál es ese conocimiento existente, estaríamos impidiendo que esas personas hagan las conexiones que les permitan aprender en forma significativa.

Entonces, ¿cómo utilizar las tareas de evaluación diagnóstica para retar apropiadamente a todos los estudiantes y permitirles ampliar su comprensión?

En primer lugar, el maestro debe tener claridad sobre los conocimientos, comprensiones y habilidades esperadas. Sin esta claridad, sería difícil dar un propósito a la tarea de evaluación diagnóstica. Una vez que la información ha sido obtenida, ésta debe permitir al profesor tomar decisiones para planificar experiencias de aprendizaje diferenciadas, desafiando a cada estudiante de manera adecuada para que pueda ampliar su comprensión desde su punto de partida. Además, la evaluación previa también debería dar información sobre los intereses de los estudiantes y sus estilos de aprendizaje, (Tomlinson, 2013) asegurando que cada uno se enganche y esté verdaderamente motivado para aprender, de modo que el aprendizaje pueda ocurrir en un contexto más natural y significativo.

Una maestra de quinto grado que trabaja en la unidad de indagación bajo el tema transdisciplinario, Cómo funciona el mundo, comenzó evaluando los conocimientos actuales sobre los cambios de la Tierra y sus causas, así como los conceptos de estructura y evolución. A través del uso de estrategias como el Modelo de Frayer y Mostrar y Decir, descubrió que algunos estudiantes tenían un amplio conocimiento acerca de las etapas de la evolución de la Tierra y las causas de sus cambios estructurales, mientras que otros pensaban que sólo la humanidad era responsable de esas transformaciones.

Frayer Model

Los estudiantes compartieron sus ideas iniciales acerca de la estructura de la Tierra y sus cambios, usando el Modelo de Frayer.

Individual Frayer model

Algunos estudiantes compartieron sus ideas iniciales en forma individual, usando el Modelo de Frayer.

Basándose en la evaluación diagnóstica, la profesora preparó centros de aprendizaje para los estudiantes que tenían algunas ideas erróneas sobre las causas de los cambios físicos y químicos de la Tierra.

A medida que los estudiantes trabajaban en los centros, la profesora observaba, hacía preguntas, aclaraba conceptualizaciones erróneas y proporcionaba retroalimentación. De esta manera, se aseguraba que los siguientes pasos de su aprendizaje los construyeran a partir de sus propios descubrimientos y de sus conexiones. La profesora también los ayudó a enfocarse en las siguientes etapas de sus procesos de indagación, dando sugerencias para el futuro. Este enfoque hizo que los alumnos reflexionen sobre nuevas posibilidades para seguir explorando y establezcan nuevas metas para la mejora continua.

Los estudiantes que mostraron dominio en algunas expectativas de aprendizaje durante la evaluación de inicio, pasaron a trabajar en otros retos como escribir un texto informativo, re-organizar una secuencia de dibujos o completar infografías relacionadas con las etapas de la evolución.

Writing different types of texts x2

Los estudiantes que mostraron dominio en algunos objetivos de aprendizaje durante la evaluación diagnóstica, fueron retados a compartir sus comprensiones escribiendo diferentes tipos de texto.

Al desarrollar estas experiencias se tuvo en cuenta los intereses de los estudiantes y sus estilos de aprendizaje. Luego de aplicar rutinas de pensamiento como Think, puzzle explore, y Veo, Pienso, Me pregunto (Pensamiento Visible, Universidad de Harvard) la maestra obtuvo información sobre las preguntas e intereses de los estudiantes, así como de sus perfiles de aprendizaje. Esto le permitió ofrecer una variedad de oportunidades para que comuniquen sus interpretaciones y aseguren su éxito.

En síntesis, la evaluación diagnóstica debe ser vista menos como un mero paso formal por cumplir y más como una herramienta fundamental que nos permite planificar experiencias desafiantes y atractivas para todos los estudiantes, con el fin de hacer de su aprendizaje un proceso más importante y significativo para cada uno de ellos.

Elena Vizurraga es la Directora de Estudios en Hiram Bingham, The British International School of Lima, en Perú. Su pasión es la evaluación, a la que considera una herramienta auténtica para el aprendizaje y el crecimiento continuo. Ella es Educadora del IB y ha colaborado en algunos proyectos de desarrollo curricular del PEP. Es una apasionada indagadora, disfruta del trabajo colaborativo y cree firmemente que nuestra tarea más importante como maestros es inspirar a nuestros alumnos a querer seguir aprendiendo durante toda su vida para contribuir a hacer de este mundo un lugar mejor.

Elena Vizurraga is the Director of Studies at Hiram Bingham, The British International School of Lima, Peru

Elena Vizurraga is the Director of Studies at Hiram Bingham, The British International School of Lima, Peru

The author illustrates how pre-assessment tasks can be used to appropriately challenge and enable every student to extend their understandings.

We all know that assessment should enable our students to know themselves better as learners, reflect on their learning journey and set goals to keep moving forward. We assess to inform learning, which will eventually lead us to promote it.

Pre-assessment within this context includes gathering information about what our students know, understand or can do before starting a learning cycle. If we do not anticipate their levels of mastery about the expected learning targets, we will hardly help them to move forward from where they are.

 

Learning centres x2

The students worked in different learning centres to clarify some misconceptions and deepen their understandings.

Imagine a doctor arriving in his office and finding ten patients waiting for him. Without knowing who everyone is and why they are there, he gives them the same medicine and dosage, and for the same time span. What would happen to the needs and difficulties of each individual patient? How many of them would not be healed but instead would suffer even greater health problems? Similarly, a teacher who does not find out what prior knowledge and current levels of understandings their students have will be wasting precious time or even worse, will possibly be deepening difficulties in learning.

People learn when they are able to connect new knowledge with existing knowledge. If we do not take time to explore what the existing knowledge is, we would be preventing those learners from making the connections that allow significant learning to take place.

How can we use pre-assessment tasks to appropriately challenge every student and enable them to extend their understandings?

Firstly, the teacher must have clarity about the expected knowledge, understandings and skills to be developed. Without this clarity, it would be difficult to give a purpose to the pre-assessment task. Once the information has been obtained, it should allow the teacher to make decisions to plan differentiated learning experiences, so that each student is appropriately challenged and able to extend their understandings from their starting points. The pre-assessment should also give information about the students interests and ways of learning (Tomlinson, 2013) to ensure that each student is engaged and truly motivated to learn, so learning can occur in a more natural and meaningful context.

A fifth-grade teacher working on the unit of inquiry under the transdisciplinary theme How the world works, began by assessing current understandings about earth changes and their causes, as well as the concepts of structure and evolution. Through formal pre-assessment strategies, such as Frayer Model and Show and tell the teacher found that some students had extensive knowledge about the stages of earth’s evolution and the causes of its structural changes, while others thought that mankind was responsible for those transformations.

Frayer Model x2

Students shared their initial thoughts about the structure of the Earth and its changes by using the Frayer Model.

Individual Frayer model

Some students shared their initial thoughts individually, by using the Frayer Model.

Based on the pre-assessment, the teacher prepared learning centers for the students who had some misconceptions about the causes of physical and chemical changes of the earth. As the students worked at the centers, the teacher was observing, asking questions, clarifying misconceptions and providing feedback and guidance. In this way, she ensured that the next steps for learning were built from their discoveries and connections. The teacher also helped the students focus on their next steps in their inquiry processes, by providing “feed forward”. This approach made students reflect on new possible paths to explore and they were able to establish new goals to continue improving.

The students who showed mastery of some learning expectations on the pre-assessment were challenged to share their understandings by writing an informative text, re-arranging a sequence of drawings or by completing some infographics related to the stages of evolution.

Writing different types of texts x2

The students who showed mastery of some learning expectations on the pre-assessment, were challenged to share their understandings by writing different types of texts.

When developing these learning experiences, the teacher took into account her students’ interests and learning styles. It was easy to include these elements because she had applied the Think, puzzle, explore, and I see, I think, I wonder thinking routines (Visible Thinking, Harvard University) as other pre-assessment tasks. This allowed her to incorporate a series of students’ questions and interests into the unit planner, as well as identifying students’ learning profiles, which enabled her to offer a variety of opportunities to the students in order to communicate their understandings and ensure their success.

To sum up, pre-assessment should be seen less like a mere step to comply with and more as an essential tool that enables us to plan challenging and engaging experiences for all students in order to make their learning a more significant and meaningful process.

Elena Vizurraga is the Director of Studies at Hiram Bingham, The British International School of Lima, in Peru. Assessment is her passion, which she considers an authentic tool for growing and learning. She is an IB Educator and has contributed in some PYP curricular development projects with the IB. She is a passionate inquirer, enjoys working collaboratively and she firmly believes that our main task as teachers is to inspire our students to be lifelong learners, eager to contribute to building a better world.

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6 Responses to The value of pre-assessment

  1. Jaya 14 July 2015 at 7:17 am #

    very informative….

  2. rubina 14 July 2015 at 6:32 pm #

    Wow…fab…(y)

  3. Brian Lalor 14 July 2015 at 8:59 pm #

    Is there anyway to have this translated into English? It looks very informative for my teaching.

    • Terri Walker 17 July 2015 at 1:12 pm #

      Hi Brian, At the top of the blog post you should see two tabs: one that says Spanish, the other English. Simply click on your language of preference.

  4. Chris 15 July 2015 at 12:33 am #

    Good post. I cannot stress enough how we need to be always mindful of pre assessing students approaches to learning (skills). I find that many good educators pre assess the students knowledge and understanding of a particular topic/concept and use that information to put in place future plans, however often the essential skill pre assessment is missing. Always direct your faculty to think of ways to find out about the students research, thinking, social, communication or self management skills before the start of the unit so you can build in future tasks that develop these. The great thing about this is then teachers can plan summative assessment tasks that ensure students need to use the skill….planning – assessment cycle complete.

  5. Erika Velez 16 March 2017 at 9:59 pm #

    Great post! I am also passionate about assessment and I find assessing prior knowledge a great tool to better guide and differentiate instruction.

    Students come to the classroom with a broad range of pre-existing knowledge, skills, beliefs, and attitudes, which influence how they attend, interpret and organize in-coming information. How they process and integrate new information will, in turn, affect how they remember, think, apply, and create new knowledge. Since new knowledge and skill is dependent on pre-existing knowledge and skill, knowing what students know and can do when they come into the classroom or before they begin a new topic of study, can help us craft instructional activities that build off of student strengths and acknowledge and address their weaknesses.
    Once prior knowledge and skill is assessed, there is a range of potential responses, depending upon the type of course, the uniformity of results, and the availability and type of supplemental materials and alternatives.

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