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Step 4. Design and Implement Classroom Assessment


NASA, like most educators and educational researchers, believes that science education should engage learners in authentic inquiry. By authentic we mean pursuing “real” scientific questions in specific scientific domains. Doing so in a way that ensures improved understanding of scientific concepts and improved science achievement has proven to be quite challenging. Recent research sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the NASA-sponsored Classroom of the Future has led to a new approach to assessment that addresses this problem (Hickey, 2003). Step 4 guides you through the process of developing and implementing assessments with this approach—multilevel assessments.  

Alignment and Design Space
You complete your design space by creating and testing multilevel assessments aligned to standards (see Figure 1). You also are introduced to design-based research methods to further implement and evaluate your activity design.  

Image that shows figure 1 - the assessment instruments: the final parameters of the Virtual Design Center design space.  Please have someone assist you with this.

Figure 1. The assessment instruments: the final parameters of the Virtual Design Center design space.

Dimensions of Inspiration
Multilevel assessments help learners who have completed the learning activities to master the concepts and skills in targeted standards and often improve scores on associated achievement tests (mental models of content knowledge). The mental model dimension is the core of the Virtual Design Center’s inspiration model. (Recall that a mental model is what you know about a topic and how you connect what you know.) That’s because learners might become disillusioned if they pursue or take an interest in science careers without having a solid mental model of science.

Activities and NASA Review Criteria Matrix
The matrix below summarizes the activities to be completed in this step and explains how to meet NASA’s product review criteria. 



NASA'S Product Review

Define the primary targeted content and pick one standard to develop assessments.

Complete Deliverable 4-1: Targeted Content and Standards.

These activities address the following review criteria:


A-3. Quality and Appropriateness
C-6&7. Evaluation/

Read Virtual Design Center Step 4: NASA. Criteria Connect.

Develop three-level assessments that align to a standard.

Complete Deliverable 4-2: Three Levels of Assessment (1 quiz item/answer explanation, 1 exam item/answer key, and 5 test items).

Pilot your assessments with learners.

Complete Deliverable 4-3: Results of the Pilot Test.

This assessment method is multilevel because it uses two levels of classroom assessment (level 1: informal quizzes; level 2: more formal exams) and an external achievement test targeting the standards (level 3). The classroom assessments provide formative feedback to align inquiry-based activities with the external tests. Each higher assessment level is less directly connected to a particular classroom activity.

Before you begin your first activity, read more about these three levels. Start the activities in the matrix and return to this page when you are finished.

Continue to Activity 4-1.

Through step 4 you have developed samples of your assessments and have piloted assessments with learners. Studies have shown that you need three increasingly formal cycles of implementing your investigation and assessments to ensure that an inquiry-oriented environment is both authentic and able to improve achievement test scores. In step 4 you carried out a pilot study of the first of three cycles.

Further Tasks on Assessment
The piloting process should have left you with some open questions that you might wish to explore. You might want to do some informal experiments where you add more details (or take some away) from the feedback rubrics and see if that helps facilitate conversation. You might add some more difficult quiz items and see if that improves exam performance. This is not required for your Virtual Design Center experience. Consult your facilitator to help tailor any additional work you might want to add in order to complete the development of assessment materials. Read the following research-based design principle that exemplifies the use of an alternative assessment approach.

Check the alignment of the six parameters to your design. Once your team is satisfied with the step 4 deliverables, submit them to the discussion board. Your facilitator will review your documents and provide feedback.

In step 5 you will draft your inquiry-based classroom activity, which incorporates best practices of teaching and learning. When you are ready, move to step 5

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