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Assessment instruments help prepare your lessons

This is an excerpt from Teaching Children Dance-3rd Edition by Theresa Purcell Cone & Stephen L. Cone.

Assessment Instruments

Gathering assessment information before a lesson or unit is useful in ascertaining students' current skill level, knowledge, experience, or interest. This preassessment helps you prepare for adjustments you may need to make in your planned lessons or unit and can also stimulate students' interest in the dance topic. Assessment that occurs during the lesson or unit, known as ongoing or formative assessment, can occur at different times and determines skill development, understanding, and progress in meeting the outcomes. The third time that assessment can occur is at the conclusion of a lesson or unit. This summative assessment determines the extent of learning or provides students an opportunity to reflect on their progress in skill development, knowledge gained, and feelings or attitude about the content (Cone and Cone, 2005).

Once the outcomes are established, the next step is to determine what type of assessment will yield the best evidence that the outcomes have been met. You decide when the assessment will occur, the domains assessed, who will conduct the assessment, and the best instrument for collecting evidence. Following is a list of assessment instruments that can be used for psychomotor, cognitive, and affective assessment. Remember that feasibility is important for ensuring that the assessment is easy to administer in a class of children.

  • Checklist. The checklist is easy to use and contains a two-item rubric, such as yes and no, that evaluates whether the criteria are present. The format usually lists the names of the students down one side of the recording sheet and the skills across the top. Criteria for a yes and a no for the skills are clearly defined (see figure 6.13). This instrument is frequently used for assessing skills in the psychomotor domain.
  • Rating scale. This assessment identifies three or more performance levels based on criteria described for each level (see figure 6.14). This instrument is an effective tool for assessing ability in performing dance skills.
  • Written test or quiz. This cognitive assessment is in the form of multiple-choice, matching, fill in the blank, true or false, or short written answer (see figure 6.15). Be aware of the students' reading and writing abilities and develop a form that has adequate space for students to write.
  • Exit slips. This assessment is applicable to the cognitive and affective domains. Students answer a question about the content taught in the lesson or respond to a prompt about how they performed or felt about the dances. They write their answer on a slip of paper and place it in a box as they exit the dance space. Following are examples of prompts: “Write the name of your favorite dance you did in class today” and “Write the name of the movement that was the hardest to learn.”
  • Drawing. This cognitive and affective assess-
    ment reveals students' understanding or feelings about the lesson. Because children take time to complete this assessment, you can ask the class-
    room teacher if he or she can provide time during the day to complete the assessment. For example, if the assessment asked students to draw one of the body shapes they used in their cloud dance, the students would draw their body shape and add a descriptive word (see figure 6.7 on page 86).
  • Peer flash cards. This psychomotor assessment uses an observer and a performer. Each card represents a symbol that relates to a performance level. For example, a two-card assessment can use one card with a happy face (), which means the dancing is fantastic, and a card with a neutral face (the mouth is a straight line), which means the dancing needs more practice. The observer watches the performer and then holds up the card that represents their assessment. Color cards can also be used. Clearly identify the criteria for each card.
  • Human graph. This assessment asks students about their preferences. You set up three signs, attached to a cone, that are lined up side by side. One sign is labeled “Awesome,” the second sign is labeled “Okay,” and the third sign is labeled “Did not like.” You call out a dance movement or a dance completed in the lesson or unit, and the students line up behind the sign that reflects their preference. A human graph appears as students line up based on their preference. The labels can be changed to represent other evaluative terms or dances.
  • Journal writing. Students can use journals for writing or drawing their responses to questions that you ask. The questions can be either cognitive or affective. Collect the journals, read them, and make comments to the students. Following are some sample questions: “What part of the lesson did you like the best?” “How did you work together with your group to create the tornado dance?” “Describe a movement you created for your line dance.” “Identify one thing you learned today.”
  • Dance maps and webs. This cognitive assessment provides an opportunity for students to draw and write what they learned about creating or learning a dance. The dance map includes a line drawing of the pathways while also noting the movements (see figure 6.16), and the web helps students define terminology or descriptive words about a learned or created dance (see figure 6.17).
  • Video recording. You or the students can use a video recording of a completed dance that they learned or created. Students can learn to use a small video camera to record their own or others' dance performances. You can also set up the video camera at an assessment station where you record students' verbal responses or dance performances.
  • Portfolio. This assessment is a collection of a student's achievement over a period of time. The portfolio contains written tests, drawings, selected journal entries, dance maps, reports on a dance topic, and photographs. In addition to these items, a digital portfolio can contain video of dance learning and performance, student interviews, and verbal explanations of how a student created a dance or their process in learning a dance. Either portfolio type can be used for parent conferences or, as Niguidula (2005) says, “As students look through the portfolio and read over their reflections, they recognize how their skills have grown over time and begin to see where they can go next” (p. 46).
  • Peer teaching. As a formative assessment of knowledge and physical ability, one student teaches a dance or a movement to one or more peers. The peer teacher explains how to perform the dance or movements and adds a demonstration. In this way the cognitive understanding and physical ability are integrated. You or the students' peers can develop the criteria for assessing how accurately the peer teacher explains and demonstrates.
  • Zone assessment. This assessment is used in large classes for assessing a student's ability to perform a dance step, sequence of a couple steps, or a completed dance. The class space is organized into three or more zones, and six to eight students are assigned to a space zone. You identify the dance content for assessment and then ask all students in the zone to perform the movements. Use a checklist and note the students who are unable to repeat the movement accurately. Move to the next zone and repeat the assessment with the same or a different movement. This continues until all students in the designated zones are assessed.

Learn more about Teaching Children Dance, Third Edition.