Don’t Make Your Students Dread “Test Day!”

The Typical Assessment Day Drag

Does this image look familiar? Sadly, I’m sure it does. Assessment day always leaves a bad tastes in students’ mouths. They often can’t wait for this day to be over, or pray that the day never actually comes. Many forms of assessments can make students anxious, overly stressed, and dread going to class.

In the average chemistry classroom, assessment day consists of students sitting, facing the front of the room, and scrambling to finish a thirty question multiple choice test on stoichiometry strictly including math problems before the bell sounds. This isn’t how assessment day needs to look! What if assessment looked more fun, experience based, and productive?!

Don’t fret; we as chemistry teachers have the ability to change this.

What Should We Even Assess in Science?

Steve Metz, the editor of the 78th Volume of The Science Teacher journal, states that assessing for learning is much more beneficial than assessing for simply finalizing a lesson. He states that summative assessments in particular should be focused much more on the big picture, and how the smaller details tie into the big picture. With this in mind, it’s more important to address large goals in assessments rather than strictly focus on the smaller goals.

Image result for big picture

With this idea in mind, we don’t have to administer simple paper and pencil tests! Keep reading to explore the world of creative assessment.

Your “Not-So-Typical” Assessments

There are so many options for innovative assessments in which students can use creative outlets and their other interests to show off their chemistry knowledge. These could include:

  • Blogs
  • Bumper Stickers
  • Cartoons
  • Game Creation
  • Mock Interviews
  • Maps/Concept Maps
  • Menus
  • Models
  • Mock Newscasts
  • Prezzi’s
  • Posters
  • Songs/poems

Basically, the list goes on and on!

Image result for excited personAll of these assessment methods allow for students to express the “big picture” knowledge they have gained in your class. The fun part is that you can design these! Yay!

You may be thinking, phew, easier said than done. I get it, we don’t see these strategies very frequently in chemistry classrooms. Don’t worry, here’s an example of an innovative assessment to use in your chemistry classroom:


A Menu from the (Five Star) Periodic Table Gourmet RestaurantImage result for menu

  • Students will be creating a “menu” for a periodic table themed restaurant in which the menu is organized similar to that of the periodic table. Look for sections titled:
    • Noble _____
    • Transition _____
    • Halide _____
    • Alkali _____
    • Et cetera
  • The food items listed within these sections should be described with traits of the elements found in these sections on the periodic table
  • Objective: students can show their understanding of the different groups within the periodic table and the traits of the elements within these groups.
  • The menu can be as creative as they would like, as long as the main ideas are incorporated!

You may be wondering, how would I even grade this? Again, no need to fret–I have created and attached a rubric!

Productively Assessing ELLs and Students with Learning Differences

The key to assessing ELLs and students with learning differences is simply flexibility. No, not physically, but being flexible with your assessments. Not every assessment is going to work for each student! Think about the assignment and what you know about your student

  • Would they benefit from this?
  • Are there less difficult options?
  • Would they struggle with this?

In regards to the menu assessment above, I’m not sure this would work for an ELL. Instead, I would give the option for the student to draw the traits with their “food.” This way, they are not dependent on language, and are instead using visuals to describe the elemental traits. As another example, I would allow for students to listen to music during their completion of this menu. This would benefit students specifically with any attention deficit disorders to focus more and get in the zone!





Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.