TELS Assessments

TELS Assessment Activities

The TELS approach to assessment focuses on measuring how successfully students evaluate and change their perceptions about science in light of new information. This approach offers insight into both the overall benefit of TELS projects and the specific impacts of scientific simulations. The TELS assessments ask students to link and connect ideas and give explanations for their conjectures, consistent with the knowledge integration framework that guides design of TELS curriculum materials.

We created a scoring rubric for capturing progressively more sophisticated levels of knowledge integration (KI) in student responses. Research on knowledge integration items shows that items scored using the KI rubric form meet all the criteria for item response theory (IRT) models. Establishing consistent norms for knowledge integration across topics strengthens TELS assessments.

Embedded Assessments
Embedded assessments provide precise information about student learning on a minute-by-minute basis. Many TELS projects embed assessments prior to and following the use of scientific visualizations to gain insight into the impact of these visualizations on student understanding.

Pre/Post-Tests and Benchmarks
Pre-tests and post-tests were administered to students participating in TELS curricula throughout the project. The results of these tests allowed us to assess student learning gains according to the knowledge integration framework, as well as iteratively refine and improve the curriculum projects.

TELS also created six TELS benchmark tests, each composed of some research-based and some standardized items measuring knowledge integration. The tests cover middle school physical science, life science, and earth science, as well as high school biology, chemistry, and physics. To assess student understanding and compare student performance in typical and TELS-enhanced classes, we implemented cohort comparison studies using the benchmark assessments. The same scoring rubric capturing progress in knowledge integration was developed and applied to each item used in TELS assessments. These benchmark results enabled us to compare students who studied TELS to similar students who did not and also informed the initial design of the TELS curriculum projects.