Strategies Table of Contents

Instructional Assessment Strategies for Health and Physical Education

Phoebe Constantinou

Assessment has become increasingly important at all levels in the education system (Broadfoot & Black, 2004; Guskey, 2011, 2013). Assessments can be defined as the variety of methods used to grade, evaluate and rank students’ knowledge or to measure everything from kindergarten readiness to potential college success. Assessments are often perceived, particularly by students, as tests that mostly express judgment of performance (Guskey, 2011; Kohn, 2011; Tomlinson, 2008). Earl (2003) separated assessments into three areas: “assessments of learning,” which are assessments that make a judgment on performance; “assessments for learning,” which are assessments informing the teaching process (teacher); and “assessments as learning,” which are assessments informing the learning process (student). Depending on where the emphasis is placed when developing assessments, the impact of such assessments on teaching and learning can be different (Tomlinson, 2008). This article discusses basic concepts of assessments used in education and explores the idea of using “assessments for and as learning” — defined as instructional assessments — in the field of health and physical education.

Defining Assessment Concepts
Conventional or traditional assessments Conventional assessments are quite popular among educators, despite the controversy that such practices might not be the best way to determine students’ knowledge. These assessments are typically paper-and-pencil tests with multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, matching, and true-or-false questions. Traditional assessments are seen as easy to administer and easy to grade. Traditional tests could come along with a textbook or be developed by the teacher. Typically, they require students to select, recognize or recall content. Such assessments provide very little to no opportunities for students to utilize higher order thinking or problem-solving skills (Dietel, Herman, & Knuth, 1991; Mauch, 2005). Generally, traditional assessments are used as “assessments of learning” and are seen mostly as a fair and objective way to judge students’ learning.

Authentic and performance-based assessments
These assessments can be defined as “assessments for learning” and can easily become “assessments as learning.” These assessments are more hands-on and are based on real-life situations. When well designed, students are compelled to evaluate, analyze and engage in problem solving and synthesize solution(s). Thus, students engage in high-order thinking, while utilizing prior knowledge and prior experiences to construct their own new knowledge (Andrade, Huff, & Brooke, 2012). In physical education, for example, asking students to develop their own fitness program to increase muscular strength and flexibility would require them to call on various concepts and previous knowledge to complete the task. Similarly, in health education, students may be asked to develop a diet plan to decrease body fat. Authentic assessments have the potential to provide direct evidence of students’ learning while guiding their learning in the process (Dietel et al., 1991; Fusco &Barton, 2001).

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