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Skip to 0 minutes and 4 seconds In the photosynthesis activity, you’ve just looked at, you can see how the teacher uses formative questions to probe understanding. He asks the students to say what they think and then carefully guides the discussion so that students begin to build on the ideas of their peers. Equally, the teacher could have used a hinge point question in this lesson. He could have shown the class the two different size plants and asked which of the following is most likely to have made these plants grow differently? Adding more fertiliser to the soil, placing the plants in different light conditions, or keeping one plant in a warmer room?

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 seconds Your class could respond like this or maybe like this.

Skip to 0 minutes and 56 seconds What would this tell you about their learning? What might you do in response to this evidence? With the first set of evidence, the majority of your class believe that plants grow because they get more fertiliser, which suggests they are perhaps incorrectly thinking of fertiliser as plant food. So maybe getting them to look at and explain Van Helmont’s experiment on photosynthesis might be a useful way forward here. For the non-biologists amongst you, you might want to Google Van Helmont’s experiment. It’s a useful way of looking at how to change ideas about plant photosynthesis. If most of the class chose more light, then you would know that they are ready to move on in the instructional sequence.

Skip to 1 minute and 41 seconds And while there might be some extra work to do or alternative work with a few students, the ones that chose the fertiliser or the warmer room, you are aware of the needs of all your students in your class. In other words, formative action has taken place.

Feedback from Chris

In this video Chris comments briefly on the activity in the previous step. She then develops an alternative approach to eliciting evidence - this time using a hinge-point question.

Chris presents two versions of the evidence that learners might provide and discusses how that evidence could be interpreted.

For those following up on Chris’s suggestion to non-biologists, the first part of the video linked below will give you a taster of Van Helmont’s experiments:

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Assessment for Learning in STEM Teaching

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