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STEM education practices and approaches have been emphasized in recent years at the elementary school level. The emphasis on STEM integration at the elementary level has stressed learning, motivation, and 21st-century skills as positive outcomes. Despite this emphasis, elementary level teacher assessment practices for open-ended STEM design challenges are not clearly established. Additionally, little is known about the teacher workload associated with various forms of assessment connected with these activities. Therefore, the researchers collected and examined data from four teachers and 100 elementary school students engaged in three STEM design problems. Teachers assessed student work using traditional approaches and a relatively new approach called adaptive comparative judgment (ACJ). The time teachers spent assessing student work using the two forms of assessment, the scores received through traditional assessment approaches, and the rank order of student work from the ACJ assessment were collected. The data analysis revealed key similarities and differences, in the time required for assessment and the outcome of traditional and ACJ assessment approaches.
Adaptive comparative judgment (ACJ), a relatively new approach to assessment, has proven valid, reliable, and feasible for the assessment of open-ended design problems. The use of ACJ for assessment has shown positive results in various countries around the world. The potential for ACJ, as a tool for international collaboration in assessment, has not yet been addressed. Preliminary findings from a study involving ACJ use in three countries (United States, United Kingdom, and Sweden) and future directions for research are shared.
One of the fundamental advantages behind Adaptive Comparative Judging (ACJ) is that it is easier and more accurate to comparison judge a series of products, and to develop a rank order of achievement, than it is to score products using a more subjective method or rubric approach. Research in the field of comparative judging has shown very high levels of reliability and close correlations between traditional grading approaches and this assessment methodology. This assessment approach appears to be effective at varying levels of rigor and academic achievement. Studies have examined adaptive comparative judging techniques in academic areas such as writing/composition, science education, and geography instruction. The areas of design and technology have proven to be especially effective topics for ACJ assessment, and are of special interest to the authors.