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Assessment for learning in economics

Assessment information can tell students how they are progressing, and can tell teachers if their teaching is effective.

Purpose of assessment

The primary purpose of assessment is to improve students’ learning and teachers’ teaching as both student and teacher respond to the information that it provides (NZC, p. 39). Assessment is much more than just NCEA and other national certificates. Gathering ongoing assessment data will benefit student learning because feedback that is received by students will highlight their strengths, allow them to experience success, and guide them in the next steps for learning.

The information that assessment provides is integral to the teaching as inquiry model. In the learning inquiry stage, teachers and students should be asking what happened as a result of the teaching, and what are the implications for future teaching? Assessment information that is gathered using a variety of approaches will help answer these questions and provide guidance on the next teaching and learning steps that are required (the focusing inquiry).

But 'if inquiry is to be well informed and provide useful feedback, students need to be actively involved in helping their teachers ascertain what they have learned, what their strengths are, and where the gaps may be'.

Directions for Assessment in New Zealand

( Directions for Assessment in New Zealand)

Plan for assessment

Teachers can plan for assessment as they are planning learning episodes. Teaching, learning, and assessment work together.

Ensure students know in advance how and why they are to be assessed. Involve them in the planning of the assessment and/or the framing of success criteria.

Assessment information can be obtained from a range of sources, including the students’ own evaluations of their learning and progress.

'With this inside information, teachers are in a better portion to make decisions that effectively support continued learning and students are less likely to find that assessment discourages them and inclines them to disengage.'

Directions for Assessment in New Zealand

Importance of feedback

'Students need to be placed at the heart of the assessment process and educated in ways that develop their capability to assess their own learning. When we say ‘assessment capable’, we mean ‘able and motivated to access, interpret and use information from quality assessments in ways that affirm or further learning. Our primary concern is to develop students’ assessment capabilities so that they know how to obtain evidence of learning, how to interpret assessment information, and when to ask for clarification. Feedback based on assessment is recognised as one of the most powerful ingredients of teaching and learning'.

Directions for Assessment in New Zealand

Formative and summative assessment

'The use of the terms ‘formative’ and ‘summative’ has been used to differentiate purposes of assessment. These terms have had a useful role in broadening teachers’ understanding of assessment, but we are of the view that it is time to move on. The reality is that any assessment information gathered for the purpose of informing learning (formative assessment) could also be used to make a judgement about learning to date (summative assessment), and vice versa'.

Directions for Assessment in New Zealand

Using existing knowledge and experiences

Assessment for learning allows teachers to discover the existing knowledge and experiences that students bring to learning episodes. It also identifies any specific learning needs a student may have, learning styles that students prefer, and the interests and backgrounds of students. This evidence may be from the teachers’ previous knowledge of the student, or could be collected at the beginning of the year or at the beginning of a unit of work. It may also be collected in an anecdotal form or ‘of the moment’ as the year progresses and the teachers knowledge of their students increases.

Examples of evidence of existing knowledge and experiences

  • Talking to teachers of students from previous years.
  • Talking to students about themselves and finding out what their background is, and what their interests are.
  • Analysing AsTTLe, MIDYIS and YELLIS data for the students, particularly literacy and numeracy results.
  • At the start of the year do an introductory survey where students are asked about their families, interests/hobbies, how they like to learn, and content they want to learn about in economics. The information could then be displayed and shared with the rest of the class.
  • A pre-test could be given before a learning episode related to demand. This could test student’s prior knowledge on the factors that influence demand and how to illustrate shifts and movements on a demand curve.
  • Group, peer or individually brainstorm existing knowledge of a new topic. This could be recorded as a mind map, graffiti wall, fishbone etc for future reference.

Activities that gauge students’ prior knowledge of a topic or a concept could be used at the end of a learning episode to compare what students knew at the beginning and what they know at the end. This allows teachers and students to evaluate their learning and to also identify future steps for teaching.

Assessing progress towards learning outcomes

Assessment for learning is part of the ongoing teaching and learning that occurs throughout a unit of work. It is a way of assessing the progress students are making towards learning outcomes and it allows teachers and students to plan for next steps within a unit of work. Students are given multiple opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and assessment design can be varied to maintain their interest. Examples could include:

  • Conferencing with students about the supply curves they have drawn and giving feedback on those aspects that are correct and those that need to be developed.
  • Ten quick quiz questions at the start of a class illustrating changes on the demand curve using mini whiteboards.
  • Students writing 5 quiz questions with answers about flows and sectors in the circular flow diagram and giving these to another class member to answer.
  • Students completing a PowerPoint which shows the factors that affect demand and whether these cause a change in quantity demanded or a change in demand.
  • Students presenting verbally to the class their understanding of the flow-on effects of a particular event on the sectors of the circular flow diagram. Students could be given the event or have to find their own newspaper article, news item etc.
  • Role plays (where the students are given a case study or make up their own) which illustrate the basic economic ideas of scarcity, choice and opportunity cost.
  • Students researching and drawing/making a model of a flow diagram of a production process which shows the resources used and factors that affect the productivity of the firm.
  • Students making their own board games (snakes and ladders, monopoly etc) that include questions about economic terms, concepts, and ideas.

Economics and external qualifications

At the time of publication, achievement standards were in development to align them with The New Zealand Curriculum. Please ensure that you are using the correct version of the standards by going to the NZQA website.

Aligned level 1 achievement standards were registered for use in 2011 and level 2 for use in 2012; level 3 will be registered for use in 2013.

Economics standards matrix

The draft economics matrix outlines the economics achievement standards. Select those that most closely align to your teaching and learning programme at the appropriate level.

Literacy requirements

In 2011, six level 1 economics standards meet the criteria for level 1 literacy – Level 1 literacy and numeracy requirements.

Using local contexts for internal assessments

Several schools report students achieving higher levels of success in NCEA achievement standards when the focus has been on issues in local contexts. This means that teachers take into account a range of factors, such as the culture, gender, literacy needs, and specific learning differences and styles, when they choose texts or assessment contexts for their students. This may mean that teachers need to change assessment contexts or texts each year.

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Last updated March 23, 2018