Module 10


Appropriate Assessment for
Coastal and Marine Studies





Activity 1


Activity 2 Clarifying Definitions of Assessment Activity 3 Changing Attitudes To Assessment

Activity 4

The Purposes of Assessment for Coastal and Marine Studies

Activity 5 Formative and Summative Assessment Activity 6 Different Methods of Assessment
Activity 7 Assessment that Meets the Objectives of Coastal and Marine Studies Activity 8 Conclusion  


1. Introduction

A. Icebreaker

The first activity, 'Assessment Tea Party', seeks to promote initial discussion about the major issues which will arise during the workshop. It also helps to provide a framework for evaluation at the end of the workshop in which participants will be invited to review what they have learnt.

  • Form participants into two concentric circles of even numbers with the inside circle facing outwards and the outside circle facing inwards. Each participant in the outside circle should stand facing a person in the inside circle to form a discussion pair. Explain that each pair represents a couple of guests at a tea party.

  • Distribute a copy of Resource 1 to each participant, drawing attention to the unfinished statements.

  • Give each discussion pair one minute to discuss 'Unfinished Statement 1' on Resource 1. Call 'stop' or blow a whistle when the minute is up.

  • Now ask people in the outside circle to move one place to the left so that each person is facing a new partner in the inside circle. Give the new discussion pairs one minute to discuss 'Unfinished Statement 2' on Resource 1. Call 'stop' when the minute is up and motion for the outside circle to move again a place to the left to form new discussion pairs.

  • Continue this process, giving one minute for the discussion of each successive statement, until all have been addressed.

  • To debrief the activity, explain that the tea party discussions have introduced most of the key issues of the workshop and relate directly to the workshop objectives. Points to look for in the debriefing include participants' different views on:
    • the nature of assessment;
    • the role of assessment;
    • individual experiences of assessment; and
    • the context of coastal and marine studies in assessment.

  • Show OHT 1 to provide an overview of the two themes of the workshop.

  • Explain that the tea party discussion will be conducted again at the end of the workshop as a review and evaluation activity.

Theme A- The What and Why of Assessment

2. Clarifying Definitions of Assessment

The aim of this activity is to encourage participants to refine their ideas about assessing learning in coastal and marine studies. Definitions are not important in themselves, but may help participants to broaden their concepts of assessment.

  • Divide participants into groups of 4-5 and ask each person to give a one or two sentence statement of his or her views, hopes or concerns about assessment in coastal and marine studies, to the rest of the group.

  • Ask each group to select one statement that they all agree with and to report this to the large group. Record them on an OHT, whiteboard or chart.

  • Distribute a copy of Resource 2 to each participant. This contains a list of other teachers' views about assessment. Ask participants to comment by identify the one(s) which are (i) most similar to the class list of statements, (ii) most different from theirs, and (iii) most pertinent to assessment in coastal and marine studies. Discuss each comment on Resource 2 by asking, 'Who agrees that it was relevant to coastal and marine studies and why?'

  • Direct attention to OHT 2 which provides a definition of assessment and note the difference between assessment and evaluation using the information provided in Reading 1.

3. Changing Attitudes To Assessment

  • Ask participants to continue working in their groups. Start the activity by distributing and asking participants to read Resource 3 which contains two contrasting general views about assessment.

  • Show OHT 3 and discuss the following questions:

    • What are the views of John Holt (written in 1969)?

    • What do you think is the reasoning behind his views?

    • In what ways do his views have relevance for coastal and marine studies today?

  • In a whole group discussion, contrast the views of John Holt with the more recent ideas put forward by Murphy and Torrance in 1988 by discussing the final three questions on OHT 3.

    • What are the views of Murphy and Torrance and how do they differ from those of Holt?

    • What is the reasoning behind Murphy and Torrance's views?

    • What has happened in education systems in recent years which may have led to this change? Think about the impact of the changing socio-economic fortunes on education. What implications does/will this have on your education system and, consequently, for coastal and marine studies?

  • Conclude by summarising why teachers of coastal and marine studies should be concerned with assessment.

Note to facilitators: Reading 2 provides an overview of the topic as a whole and can be provided to participants at this point if you wish.

4. The Purposes of Assessment for Coastal and Marine Studies

The purpose of this activity is to help participants realise the value of assessment for learning in coastal and marine studies as opposed to its often traditional focus as a tool for certification.

  • Arrange participants into groups of 4-5 people and give each group a copy of Resource 4. Show OHT 4 with a copy of the questions, and ask groups to answer the questions (listed below):

    • Why should coastal and marine studies educators want to assess learning? List as many reasons as you can.

    • Compare your list with that in Resource 4. In what ways, if any, does it differ?

    • How could you classify the various purposes of assessment shown in Resource 4?

  • Debrief by explaining the need to compare and contrast purposes of assessment as a vehicle for:

    • selection, control and accountability; and

    • feedback to students to aid learning.

  • Facilitators might like to discuss with the group some tensions which arise between these two perspectives at this point.

5. Formative and Summative Assessment

The aim of this activity is to focus attention on assessment which supports and encourages learning as opposed to assessment which only provides a final check on what has been learned. This is important in coastal and marine studies because of the focus on the transformative effects we seek in students' levels of awareness, their attitudes and their actions and potential.

  • Distribute Resource 5 and Resource 6. Ask participants to work in their small groups to read the two descriptions of assessment and answer the questions in Resource 5.

  • Debrief by developing an OHT or whiteboard summary of the differences, and explore the question of why we need to be aware of both formative and summative modes of assessment in coastal and marine studies.

Theme B: The How of Assessment

6. Different Methods of Assessment

This activity presents a sample of the wide range of assessment tasks that are available and provides participants with an opportunity to consider which ones are suitable for particular aspects of learning.

  • Ask participants to work individually and to brainstorm as many methods of assessing learning as they can.

  • Match participants into pairs and ask them to select, from their two lists, the 10 methods of assessment which they believe are most useful for the formative assessment of knowledge, skills (eg. data analysis, argument, decision- making) and/or values and attitudes in coastal and marine studies.

  • Next arrange the pairs into groups of four. Ask the groups of four to show their two lists and compile a group list of three assessment techniques that are suitable for the formative assessment of the following objectives of coastal and marine studies:

    • Knowledge
    • Data analysis and interpretation
    • Reporting
    • Decision making
    • Attitudes and values
    • Action

    Compare the final group lists with those in Resource 7 and Resource 8.

  • In the debriefing, draw out the point that there is a wide range of assessment options available but that different methods are suited to different objectives of coastal and marine studies and that it is vital to match assessment methods with the goals of assessment in any given situation.

7. Assessment that Meets the Objectives
of Coastal and Marine Studies

In this activity participants work in small groups to identify how the various methods they have discussed in the previous activity meet the objectives of coastal and marine studies.

  • Handout Resource 9 and ask participants to work in pairs to put 'yes', 'no' or 'maybe' in the boxes to show whether each method meets the various knowledge, awareness, skills, attitudes and action components of coastal and marine studies.

8. Conclusion

The workshop concludes with a second tea party (Activity 1). This helps participants to review what they have learnt in the workshop.

  • Using a fresh set of copies of Resource 1, if needed, and the same process as for the tea party (Activity 1), ask participants to 'revisit' each question and discuss how (or if) their understandings of the related issues have changed or developed as a result of the workshop activities.

  • As well as helping participants to review their professional development through this evaluation activity, this will help the workshop leader gain insight into the success of the workshop in achieving its aims and objectives.