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Justification

– Biology Assessment 2.

Alex McLennan – 18803088



Infectious disease is a topic that students can find particular relevance and connection to.

Being able to relate and connect to content is identified as good pedagogical practice (Gore,

2007; Ludwig & Gore, 2003) as well as a way to empower disengaged students through

building confidence in relatable content they may have prior knowledge in (Hulleman &

Harackiewicz, 2009; Mills et al., 2014).

ICT is a widely used pedagogical practice across a variety of subjects (Dawson, 2008).

Utilising ICT in the classroom has a positive impact on student engagement and learning

success (Chandra & Briskey, 2012; Fatma Taskin, 2015). ICT is best used as a complement to

the classroom lessons as students familiar with ICT tend to do better than students from

disadvantaged backgrounds, whose access to ICT outside of the school environment may be

limited (Luu & Freeman, 2011).

The video lesson in part “A” is designed to be part of a flipped lesson. ICT based flipped

lessons can have a positive impact on student engagement and understanding as part of an

overall pedagogical approach (Bishop & Verleger, 2013; Heyborne & Perrett, 2016; Janotha,

2016). This video looks at two recent epidemics, Zika and Ebola (World Health organisation,

2016a, 2016c) to provide a connection for students to the real world whilst also touching on

the recent measles cases in Sydney to enhance connection to local content (Ludwig & Gore,

2003). This video can also be used as a basic exemplar for students to follow.

The intention of the task “B” was to create a project-based, summative assessment that

allowed students to self-regulate, collaborate, self-assess and peer-assess, whilst allowing

differentiation through choice of media for their project. Weighting, the content to be

assessed and its format were based on the new syllabus (NSW Education Standards

Authority, 2017a). A formal assessment should be a valid (justifiable assessment of ability)

and reliable (consistency of results) way of determining a student’s content knowledge (He,

Opposs, Glanville, & Lampreia-Carvalho, 2014).

Summative assessment is an assessment of learning and is the ultimate objective of an

educational activity (Marsh, Clarke, & Pittaway, 2014). In a high-stakes assessment

environment like the HSC, summative assessment is needed as part of the formal reporting

on student achievement and it can be used as a guide to the content taught and student

learning (McMahon, 2006). One of the criticisms of summative assessment is it too often

results in poor learning through teachers “teaching to the test” (Fehring & Nyland, 2012),

however this task aims to combine formal summative assessment with informal formative

assessment to result in a deeper learning and knowledge experience for the students in the

form of a project-based outcome (Harlen & James, 1997; Hattie, 2015)

Project-based learning is when students take an active role in their learning by working

collaboratively in answering a question with real world implications (Holmes & Hwang,

2016). The process of working on a project where the student is responsible for their own

researching and understanding leads to stronger student engagement with, and deeper

understanding of, the content (Gary, 2015). Students who already have a conceptual
understanding of the content often excel in these type of projects. To ensure that lower

ability students are not disadvantaged during this project, it is important to allow for peer

collaboration, social support and sharing of ideas (Gore, 2007; Li, Zhang, & He, 2015).

Project-based learning is traditionally carried out in groups (Hattie & Anderman, 2013).

Because some students may feel disadvantaged by having their high stakes assessment

influenced by other student’s efforts, this task was shifted to an individual assessment. To

facilitate effective learning, social support and peer collaboration, students assess their

peers work and provide constructive feedback. The teacher will act as a facilitator during

allocated class time, to encourage collaboration between peers. This assessment is an

individual project-based task, however, it fulfils the criteria of project based learning that

has been modified for an HSC assessment task (Hattie & Anderman, 2013).

Despite being a formal summative HSC assessment (NSW Education Standards Authority,

2017a), there are elements of formative assessment throughout. There is assessment as

learning through feedback from peers and self-assessment (NSW Education Standards

Authority, 2017c; Trauth-Nare & Buck, 2011). Formative assessment ensures that students

are familiar with the concepts that are being formally assessed and to not become too

overwhelmed by the scope of their project (Barrow, 2009). Assessment as learning is also

facilitated by providing guiding questions and the marking rubric, with the document of

instructions, for the assessment.

There are some areas of potential student difficulty that need to be accounted for in this

assessment task. One such difficulty is access to the internet and ICT, that may be
problematic for some students from lower SES backgrounds (Luu & Freeman, 2011). To

counteract this, class time is provided in the school’s computer labs, and students are made

aware that they will need to access the school-based ICT resources to complete their

assessment.

Differentiation of assessment needs to positively impact the student’s ability to complete

the task, rather than lowering the task requirements to meet the student (L. Fenwick, 2012;

Lisl Fenwick & Cooper, 2012) which can be unfair in high-stakes summative assessments

(National Science Teachers Association, 2016; Tierney, 2014). Differentiation is provided by

the teacher who alters the amount of scaffolding they provide to their students. Further

differentiation is made by highlighting keywords throughout the document of instructions

and using familiar keywords of assessment (NSW Education Standards Authority, 2012). This

is to make explicit what the expectations of the assessment are. There is also a suggested

timeline for completion of each stage of the project to help less organised students stay on

track.

Another form of differentiation in this assessment is allowing student choice, which aims to

motivate students and promote student self-regulation (Evans & Boucher, 2015; Waters,

Smeaton, & Burns, 2004). The choice of medium allows differentiation through students

discerning where their skills and strengths lay within ICT, as part of the curriculum general

capabilities (ACARA, 2016; AITSL, 2016), whilst the choice of pathogens allows students to

focus on content that they personally connect with (Gore, 2007).


This assessment also has a focus on literacy so choosing their project medium is important

for Indigenous and LOTE students (Shipp, 2012) who may have a deficit in the

communication skills being assessed (NSW Education Standards Authority, 2017b). These

groups tend to have poor outcomes in standardized testing that assess literacy skills

(Castejón & Zancajo, 2015; Ford, 2013) so supporting these students to succeed needs to be

the focus of scaffolding and differentiation measures (Mills et al., 2014). By combing the

choice of project, connection to the content and appropriate differentiation it is hoped that

Indigenous and LOTE students can produce at their best level, and not be disadvantaged by

their background (Aldous, Barnes, & Clark, 2008)


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