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Assessment of Drama

Ok, so today we discussed a topic that was a little more dry. No, perhaps that’s not fair, because we know assessment is so, so, so very important, BUT ….it never seems to be any fun! Why does it always seem to be just a lot of work?? Is assessment ever easy?

SO…..here was the reading for today’s topic:

Fels & Belliveau- Assessment

….. and Notes from Assessment presentation by Dennis Murphy Odo:

  • Alternative assessments: portfolio, self assessment, peer, journaling, conference checklist, rubric, anecdotal
  • Defining characteristics: process and product focused, student centred/student input, involves critical thinking/higher level thinking and problem solving. real world contexts or simulation, Students must perform create, produce, or do, it’s non intrusive (part of classroom routine), Students are assessed on regular classroom activity, students develop meta-cognitive thinking,  self reflection
  • Relationship between practicality, reliability, and washback /authenticity (Washback= how can I use this info to put back into future teaching)
  • Traditional tests tend to be more practical and reliable, whereas alternative assessment are better with giving washback and more authentic but less practical (journal/portfolios take a lot of time)
  • AIM: make alternative assessment more practical and reliable
  • Examples of Performance assessments: Oral Report/presentation, Writing sample, Individual /group project, Demonstration (e.g. experiment), Simulation (role play)
  • Rubrics are usually used to evaluate performance.  But people can use a rubric and still have very different results….perhaps not as reliable as originally thought
  • How to make rubrics more reliable? Use it over and over again, so it’s not just a snapshot but several snapshots that can produce a more accurate picture of ability

I really agree with Dennis when he says all assessments are “good” for certain situations. There are no “bad” assessments- it’s finding the right kind for the right task/activity/project. I have to admit I have a love/hate relationship with rubrics. They have served me and my students so well at times, yet other times, they have not guided students very well in their learning nor helped me in the marking. Probably a badly constructed rubric from the start? Yes, probably and that’s one of the main problems with them! They can be very difficult to produce. How specific should you be? Brigitte mentioned in class that rubrics literally put students in boxes. Do they prevent students from “thinking outside the box” and do they punish those who do? Students might produce the most amazing work, but don’t include anything specified in the rubric. So is it fair when you disregard the rubric for that one child?

A classmate raised a good point that we don’t necessarily assess the drama because it’s a learning and teaching strategy for other curricular content. Therefore, even if we are using role drama, or readers theatre, it’s their understanding of plants and the environment or reading fluency that we assess. But we are required to report one term per year on visual arts, music, and drama. I really struggled with the assessment of it. In the end, if the student participated, I considered them to be “Meeting Expectations”. I suppose the question then is how do you assess participation? Checklists, observations, and anecdotal notes often seem too informal on which to base a report card mark. I often feel this pressure to have something tangible to support the mark given, and i think that’s why I always end up using a rubric because it seems concrete, but then I stop and realize the rubric is for justification to parents and/or administrators. Students would benefit much more by journalling about their experiences or even putting together an album/portfolio of their learning. I really liked Amanda’s idea of equipping every student with a disposable camera so they could take pictures of each other engaging in the drama activities. Reading the Fels & Belliveau chapter was a good reminder to try and incorporate other kinds of assessments into my practice. I realized this last year, I relied on criteria lists and rubrics way too much and didn’t do nearly enough of alternative assessments. Perhaps being in a job-share situation also hinders this because finding the time for conferencing and debriefing circles and portfolios is already so difficult, that when you’re only in the classroom with your students twice a week, it’s so easy to give up on these forms of assessment.



Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Amanda
    August 11, 2011 at 11:30 PM

    Yes, I agree that assessment can be laboursome when we think about it, but it is very important. How do we know whether our kids are learning other wise? I think that Brigitte and Erin’s points were so important. So nice to have this open discussion and fortunate that Dennis was able to join us and share his knowledge. Unfortunately there is no clear answer, only to keep up the open discussion.

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