Some Diagrams Associated with using Professional Judgment in Assessing Student Achievment

Diagram I:
Judgment and Circumstantial Evidence

     Judgment stands between uninformed guess-hunch-opinion on one side and fact on the other. The object of judgment is to derive a sound conclusion from less than conclusive evidence. In the case of assessing learners, we develop a good case with circumstantial evidence in most cases. That the evidence is circumstantial does not mean it is bad or weak in any way.
     For example, the conclusions drawn by the examiner in the test for granting a drivers license is circumstantial, yet it is valid. It is extremely rare to know as total fact what a learner actually knows and is able to do. However, the teacher using valid, authentic assessment methods can judge what a learner has learned with great accuracy using circumstantial evidence.

Diagram II:
Reflective Judgment

     The most critical element in deriving valid grades in authentic assessment is the educator's use of reflective judgment. Professional reflective judgment is initially used to develop empowing instructional objects that form the criteria by which student learning is gaged.
     Reflective professional judgment is also used in deciding the sources of evidence and evaluating the force of that evidence against the criteria or standards. All this together is used reflectively to come to a warrented, a defensible, and a valid conclusion as to the level of learning demonstrated by the student.

Diagram III:
Standards/Criteria and Sources of Evidence for Assessment

     The diagram below shows possible sources for evidence to be used to validly assess student learning within a given unit. This diagram take the central ideas from Diagram II and makes it more specific.
     It is important to recognize the scope of the assessment process and to understand the critically important interrelationships among the instructional objectives, the learning experiences, the post-learning activities, and the criteria by which student achievment is assessed. It is not always necessary to have a test after the core learning activities. If a test is needed, it should be consistent with the principles that govern the creation of the focal situation.
     The element of "Special Considerations" represents the reflective tweaking of the assessment judgment based upon any unusual circumstances asssociated with a particular student. This tweaking is not intended to arbitrarily raise a grade, but to include anything outside the learner's control that may take away from the validity of the assessment such as illness during the unit or a death in the family. We will discuss this element and all of the other ideas in class.

Diagram IV:
Sample Frequency Distribution of Student Scores

     This simple diagram respresents scores derived from the assessment process discussed above. From these data, where would you place the cutoff points for the grade intervals "A" through "F?" We will discuss this decision in class. We will also discuss the use and meaning of mean, median, and mode in informing reflective judgment.

Table of Contents for the diagrams online
© Randy L. Hoover, 2002