Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Correlating practise with results

The IALs, or international A Levels, by Edexcel have 6 units; 1, 2 and 3 make up the AS level in Year 12,  and 4, 5 and 6 complete the A2 level in year 13. The qualification does not have a practical assessment in the typical sense like the CIE A Level, but relies on written assessments to examine the skills of the students i.e. units 3 and 6.

I hold the belief that providing students with opportunities to demonstrate their skills in an appropriate practical context is the best way for them to hone their skills of analysis, and to be able to draw conclusions and support those conclusions with theory and published data. These skills transcend the unit 3 and 6 papers and are important in all of the units; students need to have these skills and be able to apply them everywhere, not just be good at answering the practical papers.

I have been considering the correlation between my Y12 students' performances in their unit 3 mock, core practical write-ups, research write-up, and the actual unit 3, and overall AS performances in the summer 2015 period. (Correlation coefficients whose magnitude are between 0.9 and 1.0 indicate variables which can be considered very highly correlated. Correlation coefficients whose magnitude are between 0.7 and 0.9 indicate variables which can be considered highly correlated. Correlation coefficients whose magnitude are between 0.5 and 0.7 indicate variables which can be considered moderately correlated.Correlation coefficients whose magnitude are between 0.3 and 0.5 indicate variables which have a low correlation. Correlation coefficients whose magnitude are less than 0.3 have little if any (linear) correlation.)
Unit 3 mock vs AS Unit 3 actual: R = 0.3209; 
Core write-up max score vs AS Unit 3 actual: R = 0.3121; 
Core write-up max score + Research vs AS Unit 3 actual: R = 0.4285;
The data above indicate that the activities during the course--Unit 3 mock, the core write-ups, and the research--have low correlations with the students' AS Unit 3 exam performance. What is of note is the comparison between those students who performed the Research tasks throughout the year and those that did not; the Research scores improved the correlation with the AS Unit 3 actual performances by these students.

In comparing the mock exams with the AS performances, the correlations become much more visable:
Unit 1,2+3 mock vs AS Actual: R = 0.7287; (not enough data for Unit 2) 
Unit 1 mock vs AS Actual: R = 0.7828; 
Unit 3 mock vs AS actual: R = 0.3656;
The Unit 1 mock exam taken by the students halfway through the course is highly correlated with their final AS performance making this a useful tool for guiding students in improving themselves. The Unit 3 mock paper has a low correlation with the final AS performance; considering the students do so well in this mock it may provide a false sense of security and introduce a degree of complacency in our students.

In November 2014, I presented my use of GAFE tools to assess and report my students' performances in their write-ups and research activities. It is this assessment strategy and data I have led my colleagues to bring together to identify the correlations below:

Core write-up max score vs AS actual: R = 0.6281; 
Core write-up max score + Research vs AS actual: R = 0.7204; 
Unit 1 mock + Core write-up max score vs AS Actual: R = 0.7642; 
Unit 1 mock + Core write-up max score + Research vs AS Actual: R = 0.8949;

The scoring of a research write-up was carried out with 13 students with the other 18 students only completing the core practicals. 

The Core Write-up Max scores by the students are moderately correlated to their actual AS performance. The addition of the Research performances increases the correlation to moderately correlated, and with the addition of the Unit 1 Mock, the correlation is climbing towards 'highly correlated'. 

I believe that by targeting the students' Core Write-up and Research performances throughout the year, we can improve our students' AS performances. This will require a shift in attitude by our students towards the activities as they seem to be under the impression that the Unit 3 paper is where their practical analysis skills are assessed, and one which they are good at! 

On analysing the Unit 1 and 2 papers of students who have under-performed, the questions they struggle with are those relating to graph and data analysis, validity, reliability, accuracy and precision, which are addressed directly in the Core Practical Writeups. 

Our instruction needs to consider KASI (Knowledge, Attitudes, Skills, Interpersonal skills). In context of the discussion above, Attitude and Skills needs to be addressed. The skills of analysis and the attitude of value in the write-up process need to targeted. 

The use of a write-up rubric should be adhered to with a Triple Impact Marking (T.I.M. linked with D.I.R.T.) strategy used for self,  peer and finally assessment using the comments within the GDoc writeup. The feedback (Hattie, needs citation!) students receive from themselves from grading their work against the rubric, with reasons for the grade awarded should identify where improvement is needed; the student must act on the assessment and improve their work (different colour?!) Peer assessment brings the student more feedback for improvement as the peer assesses the self-assessment and offers guidance for improvement; this advice needs to be acted upon (another different colour.) The peer also comes into more contact with the rubric causing them to assimilate the requirements for a complete write-up more. Finally, the teacher assesses the final write-up, the self and peer assessments and the action taken by the student to enhance their performance.

T.I.M. and D.I.R.T. require careful time management but the collaborative nature of GDocs and the commenting features make it easy for students to interact with each other. Students must aim to be better the next time they do a write-up; reflecting on their performance is important. Adding this reflection to the GDoc after the teacher assessment would be a straight forward strategy. A more powerful process may be to use DocAppender for GDocs which used a GForm to add the reflection to the GDoc. Since the reflection is first stored in the GForm's Sheet, the Sheet can be used to express the targets back to the student at a later date wthrough Gmail or even a GSites page.

Finally, getting the students to create a Gallery of their write-ups for public scrutiny will enhance the motivation of the students to do a better job as the authenticity of the work will be lifted. This is a standard Project Based Learning tactic to increase motivation. A gallery walk will also bring the weaker performing students into contact with the better write-ups and allow those highly skilled students to support their peers.

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