zSetting and Managing Learning Goals
The first step in conducting assessment is setting the learning goals. Once the learning goals are formulated and agreed upon, multiple forms of assessment may follow. These assessment procedures are: tests, compositions, presentations, projects, portfolios, observations, interviews, questionnaires, and learning logs and journals (Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec, 1998).
My Learning Contract
Each student must fill out the following chart that represents his/her learning goals. Students’ commitment is very important for achieving the learning goal that specifies what is to be achieved in the future and what are the responsibilities for helping group mates learn (Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec, 1998).
Students complete the following table:
My Academic Goals
My Responsibilities for Helping Others Learn
My Group’s Goals
THE PLAN FOR ACHIEVING MY LEARNING GOALS, MEETING MY RESPONSIBILITIES, AND HELPING MY GROUP IS:
THE TIMELINE FOR ACHIEVING MY GOALS IS:
Types of Conferences
The learning goals are created and discussed in three types of conferences: a goal-setting conference, a progress-assessment conference, and a post-evaluation conference. Time doesn’t allow teachers to have conferences with each individual student. But teachers can have such conferences by listening while cooperative learning groups have progress-assessment conferences or by pulling students aside for individual conferences as needed (Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec, 1998).
Cooperative Learning Group
Each class period, day, week, or instructional unit each student sets personal learning goals and publicly commits him/herself to achieve them in a learning contract.
Each class period, day, week, or instructional unit each cooperative group sets group learning goals and members publicly commit themselves to achieve them in a learning contract.
The student’s progress in achieving his/her learning goals is assessed. What the student has accomplished so far and what is yet to be done is reviewed, and the student’s next steps are detailed.
The group’s progress in achieving its learning goals is assessed, what the group has accomplished so far and what is yet to be done is reviewed, and the group’s next steps are detailed.
The student explains his or her level of achievement (what the student learned of did not learn during the instructional unit) to interested parties (student’s cooperative learning group, teacher(s), and parents), which naturally leads to the next goal-setting conference.
The group explains its level of achievement (what the group has accomplished and failed to accomplish during the instructional unit) to interested parties (members, teacher(s), and parents), which naturally leads to the next goal-setting conference.
Tests and Examinations
Two kinds of tests can be used to assess students’ learning: standardized and teacher-made. Tests and quizzes are given to assess how much each student knows and what students still need to learn. The procedure for giving tests is as follows:
- Students learn for the test in cooperative groups
- Students take the test individually and make two sets of answers. One is to be graded by the teacher and the other is kept for group discussions
- Students retake the test in their cooperative learning group
When the students meet and retake the test in cooperative groups the task is to answer each question correctly and the goal is to make sure that everybody in the group understands the materials and procedures covered by the test (Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec, 1998).
Compositions and Presentations
Two of the most common performances assessed are compositions and presentations. The use of cooperative groups to assess students’ performances meets the following goals: allows students to engage in the performance frequently, provide immediate and detailed feedback, lets students observe closely the work of others and see the strengths and drawbacks, and provide the labor needed for engaging in performances. (Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec)
When working in pairs, for instance, the students follow these procedures: discuss and outline each others’ composition in pairs, research the topic individually, write the first paragraph of each composition in pairs, write the composition alone, edit each other’s composition, rewrite the composition alone, re-edit each other’s compositions, sign-off on partner’s composition verifying that it is ready to be handed in, and process the quality of the pair work.
Name: _______________________ Date: _______________ Grade: _____________
Title of Composition: ______________________________________________
Scoring Scale: Low 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 High
Thesis Statement and Introduction
Rationale Presented to Support Thesis
Conclusion Logically Drawn from Rationale
Reasoning Clear with Valid Logic
Evidence Presented to Support Key Points
Topic Sentence Beginning Every Paragraph
Correct Subject-Verb Agreement
Correct Verb Tense
Complete Sentences (No Run-Ons, Fragments)
Mix of Simple and Complex Sentences
Correct Use of Punctuation
Correct Use of Capitalization
Fewer or No Misspellings
Scale: 93-100=A, 87-92=B, 77-84=C
Individual and Group Projects
As an assessment procedure projects allow students to use multiple learning styles and strategies. Using these with cooperative learning enhances the complexity and elaboration of the projects as more students bring more ideas to the process.
Examples of projects
Select a famous writer, artist, politician, or philosopher from the Renaissance period and become that person on a panel of experts.
Select and research a disease and prepare an instructional pamphlet to present to class.
Teaching gardening (different students are in charge of seeds, fertilizing, and so on).
Research and present to class an international conflict in the world today (for each country each students has a different aspect to study)
A portfolio as an assessment procedure is a collection of a student’s work in an area, showing growth, self-reflection, and achievement. Portfolios can also show a cooperative group’s progress (see Cooperative Group Portfolio box).
Contents of portfolios
1. Cover sheet that creatively reflects the nature of the student’s (or group’s) work.
2. Table of contents that includes the title of each work sample and its page number.
3. The rationale explaining what work samples are included, why each one is significant, and how they all fit together in a holistic view of the student’s (or group’s) work.
4. The work samples.
5. A self-assessment written by the student or the group members.
6. Future goals based on the student’s (or group’s) current achievements, interests, and progress.
7. Other’s comments and assessments from the teacher, cooperative learning groups, and other interested parties such as parents.
Cooperative group portfolio
What is a cooperative base group?
A cooperative base group is a long-term, heterogeneous cooperative learning group with stable membership. It may last for one course, one year, or for several years. Its purposes are to give the support, help, encouragement, and assistance each member needs to make good academic progress and develop cognitively and socially in healthy ways.
What is a group portfolio?
A group portfolio is an organized collection of group work samples accumulated over time plus individual work samples of each member.
What are its contents?
o Cover sheet that creatively reflects group’s personality
o Table of contents
o Description of the group and its members
o Introduction to portfolio and rationale for the work samples included
o Group work samples that necessitated cooperation
o Observation data of group members interacting as they were engaged in cooperative work on their projects
o Self-assessment of the group by its members
o Individual members’ work samples that were revised on the basis of group feedback (compositions, presentations, etc.)
o Self-assessment of members including their strengths and weaknesses in facilitating group effectiveness and other members’ learning
o List of future learning and social skills goals for the group and each of its members
o Comments and feedback from faculty and other groups
Preparing to Use Portfolios
The following checklist is for individuals or groups to use in compiling a portfolio. The teacher can use this table to set up the criteria for portfolios.
1. Who will construct the portfolios:
___ Individual students with teacher input and help
___ Individual students with the input and help of cooperative learning groups.
___ Cooperative base groups (whole group work and individual member’s work) with teach input and help.
2. What type of portfolio do you want to use?
____ Best works portfolio
____ Process/growth portfolio
3. What are the purposes and objectives of the portfolio?
4. What categories of work samples should go into the portfolios?
5. What criteria will students or groups use to select their entries?
6. Who will develop the rubrics to assess and evaluate the portfolios?
____ Faculty ____ Students
(Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec)
While tests, compositions, projects, and portfolios show whether or not students can reach a correct answer, they do not show the quality of the reasoning strategies the students use and the effective use of social skills in cooperative groups. Consequently, observation becomes one of the most important assessment procedures. There are three stages in observing students’ actions: prepare for observation by deciding who the observers are and what actions they are to observe, observe formal and/or informal, and summarize the results for students’ use (Johnson, Johnso, & Holubec, 1998).
When observing students at work, the teacher can interview them to find out about their reasoning process and strategies. The personal nature of the interviews allows the teacher to build a positive relationship with the student. An interview can be used for assessment and teaching purposes.
“Being a Socrates” is an example of an interview that is used as an instructional strategy.
Being a Socrates
- Choose a topic being studied.
- Develop two or three general questions on what the student knows about the topic to begin an interview.
- After asking the opening questions, probe what the student knows while looking for inconsistencies, contradictions, or conflicts in what the student is saying.
- Ask follow-up questions that highlight the conflicts within the student’s reasoning and make these contradictions focal points for the student’s attention.
- Continue the interview until the student has resolved the conflicts by moving towards deeper-level analysis of what he or she knows and arriving at greater and greater insights into the material being studied.
- Conclude the interview by pointing the student toward further resources to read and study (Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec, 1998)
Attitude questionnaires have been developed to show the attitudes students have towards a subject area. Obtaining good grades doesn’t mean that the students really like the subject matter.
Below is an example of a questionnaire administered to students to reveal their interest in history.
My View of This Class Is
Answer each question below with your best opinion. Do not leave any questions blank.
1. My general opinion about history is _________________________________________________
2. History is my _______________________ subject.
3. If someone suggested that I take up history as my life’s work, I would reply _________________________________________________
4. History is my favorite school subject.
______ True ______ False
5. Do you intend to take another course in history? ___ Yes ___ No ___ I’m not sure
6. How interested are you in learning more about history?
Very interested 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Very uninterested
Ugly 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Beautiful
Bad 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Good
Worthless 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Valuable
Negative 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Positive
Logs and Journals
Learning logs and journals help students keep track and reflect on their learning experiences. Logs refer to short entries related to the subject matter being studied. Journals entries are more related to personal observations and feelings. The teachers can assign point values to both logs and journals entries (Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec).
Assigning point values to entries
Completeness of entries
Entries recorded on time
Originality of entries
Higher-level reasoning demonstrated
Connections made with other subject areas
Teams and Assessment
Educators need to start their instruction, assessment, and reporting actions by forming a collegial teaching team. The team constructs the assessment and reporting process by making rubrics, implementing the rubrics effectively, and reporting the data to interested audiences (Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec 1998).
Johnson, D., Johnson, R.& Holubec, E. (1998).Cooperation in the classroom. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.