Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Week 12

The topic that I am most interested in is 3rd grade mathematics. Math has always been one of the subjects I was really good at understanding. The sampler resource that I chose can be found at From looking at the blueprint, the purpose of my exam would be to assess the children in the 6 different standards that are listed (number sense, computation, algebra and functions, geometry, measurement, and problem solving. This assessment would allow me to know if the students are really comprehending each concept thoroughly and if not, what areas do I need to spend more time on in the classroom. I do think that the items in the sampler are reliable because they give clear instructions on what the students should do. I think that the questions are also very appropriate for the content that is being assessed. They are a good representation of what they students should/needs to know based on the blueprint. The questions also allow the students to think outside the box. The questions which are not multiple choice requires the students to "show their work," which shows the teacher the process that the students are taking to solve a problem. This also provides feedback to the teacher so he/she knows where exactly in the process she should revisit or spend a longer amount of time in the future. I think that this is a great way to kind of gauge which students are more advanced or behind so that they can have the help necessary to excel and grow. These statewide exams may also be motivation to students. If a student is wanting to do well in school because of the benefits that occur, they may be more motivated to work hard so that it pays off in the long run, such as when going to college.

Extra Credit: I am still a little confused about motivation. When it comes to a student being motivated, how exactly do you know whether or not the students' motivation is due to extrinsic or intrinsic factors. I know that the teacher can give rewards such as silent reading but how do we really actually know that they are not doing the task because of the reward at the end because some students really enjoy reading so they hurry to get done so they can read. I've tried to observe my field experience class because she give the students the option to silent read when they get done but I still can't really tell what their true motivation is.


  1. I, too, am very interested in mathematics, and it has always come pretty easy to me. I agree that the purpose of this exam is to measure the 6 different overall standards of 3rd grade math. This exam, however, is usually given in the spring, which does not allow teachers to learn from the scores of the exam and reteach the parts of the exam that the students were struggling with. This test is a summative assessment, which means that it is given at the end of the unit and is seen as the final step in the unit before moving on to the next topic. I-STEP is a little different than a normal end of a unit summative exam just because it is a standardized test and the scores take a little bit more time to grade and then to report back to the teacher. This makes it even more difficult for the teacher to reteach certain topics.

    I agree that these types of questions would be very reliable because the exam is written for all third graders in Indiana and the scores are pretty constant for each individual school. I think that you make a valid argument that these questions make students "think outside the box" because they have to show their work on some of the problems. I do have a couple of problems with this though, because from all of the teachers that I had and then the ones that I have observed, they have begun to really try to not encourage creativity in solving problems because that takes a lot of time and energy, and the teachers are afraid that their students will not score as high, which could affect their job. I even have trouble with I-STEP scores letting a teacher know what they have to work on more in the next years because a standardized test is such a different type of exam than most children are used to. It's a superficial experience, which is why I do not think most students do not feel motivated to do well on the exam. In third grade, they do have the extrinsic motivation to do well on the I-READ because if they fail that, they will have to repeat third grade, but the I-STEP doesn't mean much to a third grader. It's just a boring exam to them. I think you did make some good observations! I'm just very critical of standardized exams.

    Extra Credit:

    When a student feels extrinsically motivated, it means that they want to learn for an outside reason, besides the pure enjoyment of the activity. They would be motivated to work hard because they want a good grade or because they know that if they study for an hour a day, they will get to go out to dinner that weekend. So, being extrinsically motivated means that they are motivated for a reward at the end. Being intrinsically motivated means that the student WANTS to learn just because the student has a love of learning and is genuinely interested in the topic. For example, I am intrinsically motivated in my ed law class because I genuinely am interested in learning about education law. I do not do the work that is required just because I want a good grade in the course. I read and write my papers because I enjoy talking about and reading about education law. I get pleasure from doing the work. I think a good test to see if someone is intrinsically motivated in a class is to take away grades for a while and see if the students continue to learn at the same pace or if they stop trying because it won't affect their grade. I hope this helps!

  2. To add to what Sarah has noted about motivation (since most of us want clarification on this topic), we as instructors/teachers should design activities which can potentially motivate students. While we can focus on what motivates students by finding out more about them, focusing instead on the activity allows us to examine several things. For instance, what part of the activity offer extrinsic motivators? If we value performance, then praise could be sparingly used to motivate students. As we have learned in the equity portion, letting students know what we as teachers value is important so that they can adjust/decide on how to approach the task. If students do not see the value of the task, then our role is to explain to them why the task assists them or have an impact in their future. This way, the focus is on the merits of the tasks and offering strategies/solutions that students can adopt to perform the task successfully. This again, is highly related to metacognition! Combining all the strategies that you have learned is instrumental in designing good activities. And it's no small feat!

    Additionally, as Sarah has pointed out, the task should also intrinsically motivate students. How can we do that? An important aspect of learning is also making sure that the task is challenging enough so as to not bore students but at the same time, make them feel satisfied that they have accomplished the goal. This is certainly not easy, but providing sufficient instructional support is key.

    For instance, in our work with young children, Joshua Danish and I designed an activity that asked 1st and 2nd graders to critique their own as well as their peer's drawings. Our goal in the activity was to ensure that students could demonstrate that they can critically assess science drawings using specific science criteria. To help them, I asked the students what criteria they would use to assess science drawings. This discussion was important because 1) it helped revealed what they know (assessment) as well as 2) motivate them by including their thinking into a criteria that the class as a whole agreed on. From a self-efficacy perspective, including students ideas into the criteria increases their outcome expectations (i.e. suggesting ideas is useful since it gets included) therefore encouraging participation. At the same time, it may also increase their efficacy expectations (e.g. that they have the required knowledge to approach a task). Thus, we can support students' by providing them with a criteria and help shape discussion in productive ways. This scenario can also be examined from both expectancy-value theory or goal theory so think about it!

    Ultimately, focusing on the activity allows us more control on how to tweak the design and impact student learning and/or motivation. Sometimes, not all activity work out well. Our job is to find out why - what was difficult about the task? Were instructions clear? Why did it not motivate students? Did I provide enough support? This way, we can troubleshoot the activity and critically assess our own teaching as well as understand our students's perspective.

    1. To respond to Mariah's post directly, one of the ways that teachers can know if students are motivated is their level of engagement with their activity. It can be difficult to tell if they are extrinsically or intrinsically motivated, but the former is easier to identify than the latter because of outward behaviors (e.g. how do students respond to praise, tasks - does the behavior that you want increased actually intensifies?).


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