Growing Student Success: Assessment ‘As’ Learning in Physical Education

The primary purpose of assessment is to improve student learning. Assessment is the process of gathering information that accurately reflects how well a student is achieving the curriculum expectations in a subject or course. As H&PE teachers, we gather information through various assessments to determine students’ strengths and weaknesses in their achievement of the curriculum. We use this information to adapt our lesson plans and instructional approaches to meet students’ needs, to provide feedback to students, and to assess the overall effectiveness of our program and classroom practices.

As H&PE teachers we use a variety of sources to assess students. These may include:

  • day-to-day observations of students application of learning goals,
  • conversations or conferences with students allowing them the opportunity to communicate their knowledge and understanding,
  • demonstrations of skills and strategies,
  • projects connected to learning goals,
  • performances of movement principles, skills, and strategies,
  • and tests.

Examining Assessment As Learning (Formative Assessment) In Phys. Ed.

In H&PE, teachers engage in assessment as learning by helping students develop their capacity to be independent, self-sufficient learners who are able to set personal goals, monitor their own progress, determine next steps, and reflect on their own thinking and learning.

Assessment as learning is used by students to provide feedback to other students (peer assessment), monitor their own progress towards achieving their learning goals (self-assessment), make adjustments in their learning approaches, reflect on their learning, and set individual goals for learning. This type of assessment occurs frequently in phys. ed. classes with support and modelling from the teacher.

Below are tools which I have used with my own students in phys.ed. class. Note that it is important to teach students what is expected of them when completing self/peer assessments as well as the criteria’s for success when using these tools.

Assessment As Learning Examples

Example 1: Sticky Note Self-assessment: Ladder, Pyramid, Target, Four Square

Using Sticky Notes, students write their name and level of achievement on the back of the note providing a self assessment of their knowledge or application of the learning goal of the lesson. I have them use the back so it is more anonymous. Students also write the justification for their achievement  level. As they leave the class they put their sticky note on the correct level of the ladder, pyramid, target, or square. Following the class I would review students’ notes and use that information to direct my next class – did students understand the concept, skills, strategy? Do they feel confident in their knowledge or ability to apply it? Can I move on or do my students need further instruction?

Example 2:  Exit Cards

Students demonstrate their knowledge of learning goals by responding to questions in written, oral or visual form at the end of class.  When using an exit card, students write their names on the card and respond to a question and hand it in before they leave the gymnasium. I use their responses when planning my next class, determining learning grouping, as well as identifying next steps.

Example 3: Thumbs Up

This is a great quick check tool I use often. I want to instantly know students self-assessment of their knowledge or skills. They respond to my question using either a thumbs up, thumbs middle, or thumbs down. Quick and simple.

Example 4: Four Finger Self Assessment

Students use the four levels of the achievement chart to assess their knowledge and understanding or application of lesson learning goals and they display their self-assessment by holding up a corresponding finger. Level 1 = 1 finger and so on.

Example 5: Traffic Light Cards

This strategy uses traffic lights as a visual means for students to show their knowledge and understanding. Students each have a small red, yellow, and green card (the size of a playing card) on their desk which they show when prompted. (red = don’t understand, yellow = let’s talk about it again, green = totally get it)

Example 6: Two Stars and a Wish

Students identify two stars, 2 good things about a piece of work, response, performance, and a wish, something they can improve to make it even better. I use their responses when planning my next class and identifying next steps.

Example 7: Muddiest Point

Students write down one or two points on which they are least clear from the lesson. Following the lesson I review their questions/points and either on my own or with the class we respond during the next lesson. This is a great strategy to combine the thumbs up – following the clarification, in order to make sure students understand, I would use the thumbs up strategy to know whether we can move on.

For further information on assessment, evaluation, and reporting practices in Ontario schools check out the Ontario Ministry of Education Growing Success document.

Do you have a strategy or tool you use for student peer or self-assessment? Share it in the comment section!


2 thoughts on “Growing Student Success: Assessment ‘As’ Learning in Physical Education

  1. Jenn says:

    Wow! I use ALL of these strategies and then some with my secondary students! For my grade nines one other activity that I use in my classes is called the 1-2-3 activity. It’s generally an exit card strategy where I asked students to comment on 1 new thing they learned, 1 thing they had a question about, and 1 thing they needed further clarification on. They write it down on a post-it note and place it on our classes Daily Learning Focus Chart. I also introduced the “red” post it which means “STOP” I don’t get it . When this happens I will go over the entire previous lesson again. For self assessments each student is given a popsicle stick (with their name on it) and as a class we co-construct the success criteria and at the end of each class each student places their popsicle stick in the approparite level (baskets labelled 1,2,3,4) for their participation, skill development, effort, improvement, safety, conmunication, and social skills (living skills) criteria. This is done on a daily basis. I have also designed a wall called the “pyramid of success”, which provides a visual to students identifying transferable skills, categories of sports, sport specific skills, and strategies. This resource is a useful tool for students.

    I also teach PSE 4U and for these students I like to provide feedback by using a class website, twitter, and by allowing the students the opportunity to reflect for 5 minutes at the end of each period. Every student gets to create and share a class set of flash cards for each unit using aps found on the iphone and by using my iPad. Each student also gets to create a code name on our website so they can comfortably post any questions or concerns.
    I also post everything and create “checkpoint” quizzes as assessments that are not meant to be evaluations. In the classroom every student’s learning style is posted in the room on a sticky note, I creat flexible groupings, and the class is encouraged to use 3 colored bins after every lecture. (The bins are green, yellow, and red). Green = I got it, please move on, yellow = I am not sure, briefly summarize they key points, red= STOP, I need help, can you go over this concept again please?) When teaching senior level students it’s very important to remember that they are preparing for college or university and while we need to prepare them we also need to give them the tools to be successful.

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