Episode 13: Authentic Science Assessment: Striking a New Note

Guest: Professor Sam Pazicni

In this episode, Exchange Producer David Macasaet sits down with Sam Pazicni, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, to discuss assessment in chemistry education. Sam shares how his background in music performance has influenced his approach to creating authentic, equitable assessments. He also introduces our audience to the Science Practices from the Next Generation Science Standards as an additional framework to help instructors specify learning goals.

See the transcript for this episode.

The L&S Exchange Podcast is brought to you by L&S Teaching & Learning Administration and produced by the Instructional Design Collaborative. This podcast is recorded on ancestral Ho-Chunk land, a place their nation has called Teejop (day-JOPE) since time immemorial.

Join the Conversation

How did this episode make you think? What’s on your mind about inclusive teaching? Leave us a message on Spotify for Podcasters, respond to a poll using the Spotify app on your mobile device, reply with a comment at the bottom of this post, or send us an email. We may ask to feature your contribution in this or a future episode.

Conversation Starters

  1. Sam compares music training and performance to chemistry learning and assessment. What kinds of art, athletic, or other performance experiences have you had? What similarities and differences do you see between performance and assessment?
  2. Sam speaks about having students “do” rather than “know.” What do you want students to be able to do when they leave your class? How might you incorporate more “doing” into your course?
  3. Consider the typical assessments in your course or discipline. How authentic to disciplinary practice are the activities that students are asked to do? How might you help students connect their knowledge to authentic practice?
  4. When addressing bias, Sam encourages instructors not only to look at gaps in assessment results but also to evaluate the measurement tool itself. What questions might you ask when considering the equity of your assessments? How do you or how might you reduce bias in your assessments?
  5. Many traditional assessments may neglect the affective elements of a discipline. How comfortable are you incorporating these elements into your classroom? How can assessment work in concert with potentially subjective feelings and values?

Further Reading & Resources

In this episode we mentioned, were inspired by, or wondered about the following resources and topics.

  • Sam mentions eight science practices from the Next Generation Science Standards. Read more about these in Appendix F – Science and Engineering Practices in the NGSS.
  • Sam’s process of aligning student outcomes with appropriate assessments and class activities follows a backward design approach. Learn more about these steps for designing a course from the UW-Madison Center for Teaching, Learning, & Mentoring.
  • Authentic assessment can help students engage in complex, practical, and relevant activities and receive feedback on how well they perform. Indiana University provides a useful introduction to authentic assessment.
  • We mention two taxonomies for organizing learning: Bloom’s Taxonomy and Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning. These structures can help you create learning outcomes and explore possible assessments and learning activities.
  • Sam is both a chemistry professor and an educational researcher. Check out the research the Pazicni Lab is doing to advance effective chemistry teaching practices and promote equity and inclusion in chemistry professional training.

Production Credits

Producer: David Macasaet
Associate Producer: Molly Harris
Audio Engineer: David Macasaet
Audio Editor: David Macasaet
WiscWeb Administrator: Laura Schmidli
Post-Production & Studio Support: Erika Schock
Development Producer: Jonathan Klein
Planning Group: Jonathan Klein, David Macasaet, Molly Harris, Laura Schmidli, Erika Schock, Antonella Caloro
Executive Sponsorship: Shirin Malekpour

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