Assessment in the Science Classroom: Dare to be Creative!







Most of the time, tests and exams are used to assess in the science classroom. I don’t know about you, but those two words let my body slip into fight or flight mode! Many students, like me, feel the same way. Tests are important, do not get me wrong, but we can do better than to just give tests!

Tests are, by far, not the only way to assess student knowledge! There are many other ways to assess knowledge as well. There is not a one-size-fits-all way for kids to learn and thus there is not one for assessment either. Test anxiety is real and affects many different people. Many kids, like me, do not do very well on tests.

Tests also do not always teach students to be life-long learners as well as other types of assessment. They usually don’t allow for creativity and as much problem solving. We need tests, but there are other ways to assess students as well. Multiple choice tests are a pain in my side because they do not allow for retaining the information, rather they allow for the meaningless memorization of facts.

We can do better. Assess in a way that students will never forget!

In the opening, I include one of my favorite statements from Albert Einstein on education. This statement has fascinated me for quite some time. As a soon-to-be teacher, He now makes perfect sense! It goes with what I said in the beginning. Kids are all on different levels. How you assess one kid might not work for another!

Ways to Assess Students!

Tests and Exams:

Tests and exams are usually the main way to assess students in the science classroom. Most of these are multiple choice, short answer, and extended response questions. These tests are made as unbiased as possible. If you ask me, though, there is still bias because not all students work this way in learning. I am for tests periodically, but I feel that there are other ways to assess students who do not do well on tests. If I was a teacher and I had to give a test, I would have equal points distributed to each section (multiple choice, short answer, and extended response). This gives all kids a chance to do reasonably well on the test and show what they know. As I have said, though, tests allow kids to remember things for the short term, but may forget them for the long term.





Dr. Ann brought up a really interesting way to assess kids in the science classroom. Since I love art, this method really sticks out to me! For this method, students use a hanger or other tool to create something that hangs in the classroom. They can draw pictures and words that have to do with a particular topic. They can then hang the items from a string and display it in the classroom. I love this idea because it allows me a cheap way to decorate my classroom and a way for students to express themselves. If students cannot draw, that is okay! They can take pictures or print them from the internet. Dr. Ann gave an example of when she used one at the beginning of the year to start a unit about ecology. She let the students draw themselves in nature… Cool! Below is an example of a mobile from a 4th grade class!









3-D Objects:

I do not know about you, but I like to sculpt and see things in 3-D! For example, for Mrs. Botshon’s class, I made polymer clay figures to illustrate Newton’s three laws of motion. The class thought it was awesome. Kids can make 3-D objects and bring them into the class to illustrate a topic. For example, when learning about the cell, students can bring in a 3-D cell made of candy! A picture is included of a cell model. 3-D objects can help students visualize a concept and remember it. Objects can be made out of anything, from polymer clay to newspaper to recycled objects!







Exit tickets:

In an article from the Science Teacher, they suggest using formative assessments, in this case exit tickets. Exit tickets allow students to answer a simple question after a class on a piece of paper and turn it in. This shows the teacher what the students know and gives them a clue of what to teach next. Usually these done at the end of a session.

The article in the April/May 2019 Issue, volume 86 says, “The ideas students bring to class and their perspectives on what is happening is changing constantly. Keeping track of these changes is useful in adapting lessons, nurturing student self-reflection, increasing student ownership of learning, and building a teaching practice responsive to learners’ needs.” I agree with this statement and want to use these exit tickets as a fair and equitable assessment strategy.

Lab Reports:

Lab reports are often used in science classrooms. I think that they can be helpful in certain ways, if used properly. Below is a rubric for a lab report at a high school level. Lab reports should come with a rubric ahead of time for the students. They should tell what should be in the report and give an idea of what is expected. I do, however, think that kids need to be given room to experiment and be creative. Teachers can allow creativity in lab reports in many ways. Allow the kids to organize it the way that they want to and they can also decide what to include in the introduction.







Accommodations for ELL’s

Below is a list of accommodations for ELL learners:

  • Use less distracting print
  • Use less words that are academic language and more common English words. Try to use as little academic language as possible and more everyday words that they would understand.
  • Let them draw a picture and make an analogy.
  • Give clear instructions and use body language.
  • If needed, make the instructions in their home language.
  • Give plenty of time to improve work.
  • Allow ELL’s to work together with native speakers.
  • Give plenty of examples of work and illustrate in pictures.

Accommodations for Students on the Autism Spectrum:

  • Allow students to work alone if they want to or work with a group if they want to.
  • Give extra time and guidance. Many autistic learners may struggle with creativity
  • Give plenty of examples
  • Give analogies to real world applications
  • Appreciate and encourage autistic students to use their wonderful ideas that they come up with
  • If the students need time alone or sensory-free time, allow it
  • Allow breaks
  • Allow autistic student to express themselves how they want to and do NOT force them to come up in front of the classroom
  • Encourage autistic students to use the ideas that they have and their different way of seeing the topic. This will benefit everyone!






As you can see, there are a lot of other ways to access kids instead of tests. Creativity and problem solving cause a whole lot of growth. Have kids use their wonderful ideas to amaze you! You will never be bored. As in the introduction, there is no one-size-fits-all to learning and development. That can be a challenge to us as teachers, but with these new tools, we can find a way to assess in a fair and equitable way!



  1. Hi Delaina! Thanks for your post! I really enjoyed your suggestions for accommodating atypical learners. I think an especially important point you made is to not treat these students as a difficulty but rather as a resource. Giving them the opportunity to share their unique thoughts and talents is a fantastic way to engage them in the class and enrich the perspectives of other students.

    You also talked about creative alternatives to normal assessments. Do you recall any particular creative projects or assessments you were given in high school? Do you think you got more out of those assignments than you would have from a test?


  2. Delaina, this is a very informational and interesting post! I loved how you explained all of the different types of the assessments and the type of assessments that you used. All of the images that you used flowed really well throughout the whole blog. The accommodations are also spot on. Do you believe that some types of assessments are better than others? Overall this was a very great post!

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