Episode 78 How to create performance based assessment tasks

Show Notes

What is a performance based task?

  • 4-12 week project
  • Connects with the real world
  • Students are doing or making something, not just doing a test

Key Point #1: Focus on your outcomes/standards

  • Identify the outcomes to be assessed
  • Reward them into language your students can understand
  • Break down the verbs

Key Point #2: Use the verbs to create your criteria

  • What does it look like to achieve these outcomes?
  • Verb hierarchy¬†
    • Identify – Outline – Describe = what?
    • Compare and contrast – discuss – debate = argue
    • Explain – Analyse = Why? How? Account for?
    • Assess – evaluate = Judge or to what extent?

Key Point #3: Identify a range of products that could demonstrate achievement of the outcomes

  • Physical product
  • Text based product
  • Audio or video based products
  • Combinations eg) website

Key Point #4: Provide students with examples

  • Create at least 1 example, preferably 2
  • Keep old tasks that achieved great results, or photograph them

Lifelong learning

  • Performance tasks replicate life
  • Often problem based with design thinking elements
  • Required deeper thinking and the 4Cs to complete


Dan: (00:00)
Well, hello and welcome to the effective teaching podcast. I’m your host, Dan Jackson. And today we are looking at episode 78, how to create performance-based assessment. Well, what is a performance-based assessment task? We’re really, it’s got a few things that really tell you what it is. First of all, performance-based tells you that we’re looking at the students actually doing something out of this. And that doesn’t mean a performance like up on stage or talking to the whole class. It just means that they are really creating something out of this. So generally it’s kind of like a four to a 12-week project that you’re looking at that usually will connect with the real world around your students. And it also has a student doing or making something and not just getting ready for a test, right? So a performance-based task. And, you know, I always make sure that I use quite a few performance-based assessment tasks, my formal tasks throughout my year with my students.

Dan: (01:03)
And I do these, these are all connected. They’re cover the content. They’re large. They connect to the real world often. It’s kind of like project-based learning type project, but it doesn’t have to be, it could be inquiry-based learning. It could be them creating a report. It could be them writing an essay could be them critiquing a movie, but they can do it over a longer period of time. And it has them actually doing something with it and not just sitting down in one period and writing an essay or answering a series of questions, we’re actually getting them to do something in a performance-based task. So the start with, let’s talk about how you go about the process of creating this. You need to start by focusing on your outcomes, ok, or if you’re in America this year standards, these outcomes, you want to identify the outcomes that you’re going to assess.

Dan: (01:54)
Okay. So there might be some outcomes that relate to your whole unit and depending on how many of those are, you might assess all the outcomes for that unit, but what’s more likely is that you’re going to select maybe three outcomes. I would say maximum five outcomes, depending on the size of these outcomes and what new level you’re looking at. But you want to just pick a few of these outcomes to assess. And then I want you to go through and basically have a look at your outcomes and reword the language in them so that the students can really understand them. And what that often means is breaking down the verbs that are used in the outcome. So that first kind of bit that might be for them to critically analyze something or for them to be able to make judgements about things that could be just for them to describe or explain how something works.

Dan: (02:43)
And so break that down for your students that actually know what’s required of them for that. And that then helps you with your assessment tasks in terms of you’re identifying what you’re assessing to start with. Okay. And then we’re going to move on to how you might break down these verbs. When you’re thinking about breaking down your verbs, you’re using them to create your criteria as well for your tasks. So you’re essentially thinking to yourself, what does it look like for my students to achieve these outcomes? And so for students to achieve the outcomes it should look like, and then you make a list, right? And this is essentially going to become your criteria, but you should do that based on the verb that you’ve used. So if the verb was a described verbiage, should then talk about, you know, they should be telling me all the characteristics and features of this thing.

Dan: (03:31)
Uh, and tell me more and more about what the product is or what is being described, what the topic is. Okay. And so generally there’s this kind of hierarchy of verbs when you’re creating your criteria. And so if I have, for example, my students doing an assess or an evaluate that’s very high and it’s really someone being asked to make a judgment or to tell me to what extent something is working. Okay. And that is higher than an explain or analyze, right? An explain or an analyze is telling me why or how, or getting the students to account for something. And so here I might work even backwards here. Analyze is generally a higher verb than an explain and explain is displaying cause and effect. Whereas analyze is making all the relationships clear. So there might be multiple relationships that are happening within a particular aspect or a topic that you’re looking at and do the same with compare and contrast, or for students to discuss something or to debate something, really ask the students to argue in that case.

Dan: (04:39)
And if they’re going to assess something, they should be arguing as a base level. So if I ask them to assess to what extent something works, I expect their, you know, whatever they answer to that or whatever their product is in the end for them to be able to argue both sides. So throughout this product project or throughout this product they’re producing, I want to see them actually compare both sides before they make their final judgment or evaluate exactly how well this is working. Okay. So using these hierarchy of verbs and working your way down, you can really easily adapt your criteria. And so you can have all right, at the top level, someone is going to evaluate something. So they would tell me to what extent they’re going to have points for and against et cetera. And then my criteria underneath that, that’s not going to get full marks is going to get one down.

Dan: (05:31)
For example, they’re still arguing and discussing stuff, right? So give me points for and against on both sides. Uh, they’re giving me examples, but they may not actually come out in stating very clearly that judgment or that matter have very good, uh, backing for the judgment that they’ve made or something like that. And so you’re slowly going to step down in your criteria, as you, sorry to say, step down in your verbs as you create this criteria. And so you might go from an evaluate to an argue or discuss down to a describe, and then down to an outline or an identify even as you’re getting lower and lower in terms of the marks that are given, or even just for students to understand what the difference is that they actually understand that they should be building on this. So if they’ve already done a discussion, they can look at it and go, okay, I didn’t get the full marks because I didn’t actually evaluate it.

Dan: (06:21)
I didn’t say to what extent these things are working or which one is correct, or something like that, didn’t make some kind of judgment at the end of it. And so you can help your students to identify that in how you create your criteria, making sure number one, that this can be understood by your students and breaking down the verbs and creating a very clear process for how the criteria is created. The next thing you want to do is identify a range of products that could demonstrate achievement of these outcomes. So you’ve identified the outcome, we’ve then gone through credit criteria based on those outcomes and going from the highest order verb, and going down in the hierarchy of verbs, in how we create our criteria and now looking at the products, right? What kinds of products could my students make in order to achieve these outcomes?

Dan: (07:10)
Okay. And try and think outside of the box here. Okay. So maybe there’s a physical product that they can, they can make. Maybe they could actually learn how to evaluate something by assessing things that relate to cars, right? So they could actually talk to you and create stuff out, um, relating to a car. They can create a physical product that’s leading to cars, but in the process of doing that, they can actually analyze something. Uh, maybe it’s a text-based product. Maybe they’re gonna give you an essay. Maybe they’re going to give you a report or they’re going to create some kind of website or something like that. Uh, it could be an audio or a video based product. So it could be something like this where someone’s talking to the camera and explaining something, giving it some kind of presentation in the sense, or maybe you’re going to ask them to just record the audio and they’re going to produce something in that way, because you can still assess their ability to discuss and argue.

Dan: (08:05)
And to, to what extent in a podcast, in a video, uh, and think about what products are going to be best served for meeting the outcomes too. So for some outcomes, you know, a physical product is going to be fantastic. They gotta be up there, um, doing some kind of physical dance routine to show you how movement and context and space, et cetera, can all be included into a performance, right? Uh, so that really lends itself to a physical product. And it’s gonna be harder for them to do a text-based product that, but that could create an essay that explains all this type of things to you as well. But then you can also combine all these things. You could have students create your website, right. Which might not just be text. It could be some texts. It could have videos that the students have made. It could have audio in there. It could have all kinds of stuff in a website. And so you’re thinking through the different types of products that the students could, uh, create that show that they achieve the outcomes. Okay. So they’re still meeting the criteria, but in various different modes. Okay. That’s how I can achieve that criteria either as a physical product, as a text product, as a video or an audio product, or maybe I can combine some of these together.

Dan: (09:20)
Now the fourth point, the fourth step really in creating these tasks is to then provide the students with some examples. Okay. Now, if you are going to go through a performance-based assessment sites and maybe you use last year, okay. And you’re just kind of updating it a bit, find someone who did a really good job last year, get their task, right. And use that as the example, to show your students or create one yourself, which is, or even better than doing it yourself, is to actually get another teacher to do it for you. Because one thing that happens when we creating these tasks is we come up with these great ideas about how we can assess our students and get them to do this. But then we fail to check that they can actually do this. Right. So, uh, I’ve seen examples before where teachers have given task the students to do particular things, but the students that have access to what they need to do that, right.

Dan: (10:16)
They may not be able to find the really key pieces of information. Then they don’t know how to find that information because it hasn’t been taught to them or they haven’t been guided for that. And so a really great way to get some examples is actually find even another teacher in your faculty or in another faculty and say, Hey, can we swap assessment tasks here? I’m going to do your one, besides what you to do, mama for English. Okay. Swap them over and then say, all right, you’re doing the task. I want you to create something and give it back to me and see what they come up with. Casey, how long it takes as well. Okay. But by having an example, you want an example that’s going to be, you know, it’s going to get full marks. Okay. Uh, and preferably you gonna have a couple of them so that the students can see what it looks like in different, uh, product types, I guess.

Dan: (11:01)
So having that kind of stuff. And even if you’d just take photos of those old ones that can really be helpful as well in showcasing it. Cause you know, if it’s a physical product and the students take it home, find the photos you took of it, put it up and go, this is what they did. This is why here’s all the details of it. And what made it really good. Or maybe you have a video of a previous years, uh, you know, dance performance, whatever it was. You keep, keep it past students, examples and get other teachers to do it, to test your task, to make sure that it can be done by your students, because there’s nothing worse than giving your students a task and then realizing that they can’t do it. And then you try and do it and go, actually, I can’t find the stuff that they need to do it. And if it’s your last resort is to create the example yourself, okay, go through bang something up that would, you would give four marks to. Okay. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be something that is good enough to achieve. Yeah. The top level criteria that you’ve created in terms of meeting that outcome.

Dan: (12:02)
Now you might ask, how does performance-based tasks actually relate to lifelong learning, but generally speaking, performance, task, replicate life, they normally linked to the real world. Okay. They often problem-based where the student is given a problem or a case study or something. And they’ve got to go through and think through and find solutions. It might even use design thinking elements in the process for how they solve those things. And it really requires the deeper thinking, okay. Linking through to the four CS. So you have your critical thinking, collaboration, your communication, all those things. Um, you’re linking those types of skills and the deeper thinking skills that are required to complete this. Okay. And so you’re thinking more like if they went to work and they were working in this area and this is the outcome they had to achieve, you know, what kinds of things would they do in the workplace to do that?

Dan: (12:57)
And they’re the kinds of things that come into these performance-based projects that help them to be really good things to use, to help create lifelong learners because your students are developing the skills required that they’re going to need beyond school, which is the kind of learning that really happens in life often. Well, that’s it for this episode, please make sure you come over and grab the show notes so you can get the show notes. And also an example of a performance-based assessment tasks. I’ll put an example up on that page as well, head over to teacherspd.net/78 to grab the show notes and to get an example of a performance-based assessment tasks that you can have a look at. Please also make sure that you subscribe, leave a review if you’re in a good mood and please make sure that you come back and join me next week. When we talk about the importance of student prior knowledge for learning.

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