Computing Assessment Tasks are now published! To celebrate the launch, we asked author John Woollard to tell us a little bit more about this exciting new resource and how it can support teachers in the classroom.
In 2014 the computing curriculum morphed once more with the recognition that computational thinking is something for all children at all ages. Computer programming is a really good way of giving children experience of problem solving through decomposition, abstraction, generalisation and algorithms. Computing Assessment Tasks are designed to give you a means of formatively assessing your children’s programming, computing and thinking skills and understanding.
We designed these tasks to meet the needs of a new curriculum, the needs of busy teachers and the needs of children meeting an interesting but demanding subject.
There are a few basic principles underpinning the approach to assessment:
- Assessment is for learning but also supports teaching.
- Assessment is about what children know, understand and can do.
- Assessment reveals children’s attitudes and social engagement in the subject.
- Assessment should be made through naturally-occurring classroom activities.
- Assessment is not about levels.
Computing Assessment Tasks are designed to meet these principles.
Assessment is for learning but also supports teaching
The questions within Computing Assessment Tasks are based on practical and relevant activities related to computing and computer programming. Through tackling the question, children are learning a little more about the real nature of computing; problem solving and computational thinking. For example, they might not have had experience with a particular program before, but using the skills of generalisation they seek and see the similarities.
The first task of each topic in each year is diagnostic. The teacher reads to the class and listens and gains a good understanding of what the children know and can do in general and can then set the pitch and range of learning activities to match the needs of the children.
Assessment is about what children know, understand and can do
Computing Assessment Tasks are designed to probe knowledge, understanding and skills. There is progressive differentiation of questions so all children will achieve early success but the most able will be challenged by the later questions.
Assessment reveals children’s attitudes and social engagement in the subject
There are some important aspects of the computing curriculum that are reflected in attitudes and the motivations of the children. We have to be sure of their online safety and that is not only about knowing and doing but also being motivated to do the right thing. The questions reveal some of those motivations and so identify where the teacher needs to take action.
Team work and a sense of the ‘user’ when designing programs is also key. Learning to computer program is difficult but there is much evidence that collaborative working (social constructivist approaches) makes for good learning. Designing programs requires a good sense of the users’ needs; it is an important element of the computational thinking concept of evaluation.
Assessment should be made through naturally-occurring classroom activities
The first part of each task for each topic is a circle-time-like discussion. The written tasks can then be carried out by individual children or as guided learning activities. The assessment value comes through seeing how the children respond as well as the answers they give.
Assessment is not about levels
To meet the progress and attainment agenda we have to put artificial measures on what children do (attainment) so we can evidence change over time (progress). Those ‘numbers’ can also be used to help guide our teaching by identifying areas, groups or trends. Computing Assessment Tasks can be used to provide both quantitative and qualitative evidence of attainment and progress.
Computing Assessment Tasks are designed to make the assessment of children’s attainment and progress informative, constructive and recordable. They provide evidence for the school and computing interest for the children. They guide teaching staff and reflect a progressive curriculum of programming, computer science, computational thinking and digital literacy.
Find out more about Computing Assessment Tasks and download a free sample here.
, Computing Assessment Tasks
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