The Big (Essential) Question – How do we know that we know?

6 Facets of Understanding – a multi-faceted view of what makes up a mature understanding; what might be understood as a universal rubric (adapted from UBD book pp. 82-104):

  1. Explanation – Why things happen and how? Assessment requires students to explain what they know with supporting arguments.
  2. Interpretation – What does it mean? Why does it matter? What makes sense? How does it relate to me and others? Assessment requires deconstruction of story/subject/equation/problem, etc.
  3. Application – How and where can I use domain knowledge? Assessment involves ‘real world’ problems.
  4. Perspective – How does it look from another point of view? What is justified? Is it plausible? What are the limits? Assessment requires recognition that any answer involves ‘a point of view’ and ability to confront alternative theories.
  5. Empathy – How does it seem to you? What do they see that i don’t? What do I need to experience if I am to understand? Assessment requires peer-to-peer interaction and group projects.
  6. Self-knowledge – How does who I am shape my views? What are they limits of my understanding? Assessment requires self-reflection on the process of learning.

The Learning Assessment Cycle (LAC)

is based on the Information fluency model and helps to incorporate the 6 facetes of understanding in a cohesive ongoing assessment plan. The assessment provides:

  • evidence of student engagement
  • opportunity for feedback
  • measurement of student’s learning progress
  • opportunity for students to test and apply the learned skills
  • opportunity for students to contribute to domain knowledge

LAC is an iterative process that travels through the following steps:

  1. Locating domain knowledge
  2. Exploring and evaluating the domain knowledge; researching related ideas
  3. Thinking critically about the existing body of knowledge and any newly gathered data
  4. Creating a product to demonstrate original thought on the subject
  5. Presenting a first draft of the product and receiving constructive feedback
  6. Re-evaluating and revising based on the feedback
  7. Presenting a refined version
  8. Ultimately contributing something new to domain knowledge

In the expanded diagram below, we’ve fleshed out additional cues for guiding students through the process:

Particularly note the importance of formative feedback and revision in this cycle. Also note the private and the public sides of the model. It could be argued that the cycle is incomplete without a public component.

The diagram presents a tidy, sequential flow; real learning can be a messy, disorganized process! Consider how you might lead your students through this pattern toward information fluency—particularly in the big ideas of your course.
It’s unlikely that each individual assignment will follow this complete cycle. For purposes of this exercise try to select a large project that can include all the steps.

LAC Framework

Use the Learning Assessment Framework to briefly describe the evidence and performances a student should demonstrate to show they understand a particular topic in your course.

Click the link above – you should have already been invited to share editing privileges but let us know if you have problems – and then click “File” and “Make a Copy.” Check “also copy Document Collaborators,” and give the new copy a name which identifies it to you.

This will create a copy of the file for you to manipulate at will. Begin by double clicking the descriptions that are in white boxes and then entering the appropriate details for your own course.

We will use the Frameworks to share the LACs we develop with each other, so that everyone can see what you have developed and type in comments as your presentation proceeds.

Also, use this much more manipulable Learning Assessment Cycle Framework to experiment with the shape of the Learning Assessment Cycle, as you see yourself using it in your class. Not that the LAC should be improved upon, nor that it shouldn’t. See this as an opportunity to learn about its structure as you play with it, and possibly even (why not?) improve it in the process.