How powerful could this framework become if we applied it to assessment of an observation of a student engaging in a rich learning task. I know many of you who use action stations and rich learning tasks in your classrooms much of this will sound familiar.
This is my attempt at synthesising CIT with educational teaching practice to consider a different approach to assessment of and for learning.
The critical incident technique (CIT) is a well-established qualitative research tool described by John C. Flanagan in 1954. It is a flexible set of principles that can be modified and adapted to meet specific requirements. By gathering factual reports made by observers, we can build a picture of the students thinking and capabilities that we are investigating. The CIT format effectively turning anecdotes into data.
To gather really useful, meaningful information, about how and what students are thinking and feel about their learning, anecdotal information regarding these areas is plentiful throughout action stations. However, the anecdote’s subjective nature makes it difficult to access and credibly analyse using traditional quantitative research methods.
We need to carefully consider this framework to ensure we are consistent in what we are looking for and how we will navigate conversations to gain this information.
These steps are essential components of CIT;
Step 1 PURPOSE - Identify what it is that you want to know as the students educator.
Students actively engaging in a rich math task are working and applying what they know or seeking ways to solve their problems. Sometimes the decisions and actions performed during learning in context results in "critical incidents" which may be either a success or a failure. This interview technique is used to help identify the specific actions (behaviours), decisions, and information which led to the critical incident.
Possible purpose of the interview. "We want to learn more about how you make decisions as you work out this rich math task."
They may also be derived from;
- problem solving strategies applied
- number knowledge applied to the learning process
- strategies applied
- key competencies
- learner dispositions
- areas of strength or interest
- ability to communicate the learning process
- ability to build and construct knowledge with / alongside others
Step 2 Collecting data - Through probing questioning we can help the student to talk about identifying the critical incidences they experienced throughout the task. These are decisions that may have or would likely have resulted in the success or an error in completing the task. It is important that the focus remains on the incident and what led to it.
These should be recorded as close as possible to the time when they occurred. During and throughout the activity.
Memory of the learning will become improved if they know they have to report / share to an audience.
During the questioning;
- Ask for clarification, justification, explanation of their thinking and actions.
- Avoid discussion about things not related to the learning process.
In Action Stations we record anecdotal notes on a class list for simplicity and ease of access.
Step 3 Analyzing the data
Often considered the most important and difficult step. With a framework such as this we are able to then summarise and describe the data so it can be used for practical purposes.The aim is to increase the usefulness of the data without sacrificing comprehensiveness, specificity, or detail
Step 5 - Interpreting and reporting
For each decision point before adding to classification register, consider the following:
Linking theory to practice is a great way to help define and refine elements that make it work, both being as vital as each other.
Journal of Dental Education
Sourced from: http://www.jdentaled.org/content/72/3/299.full