CBC Digital Archives

Assessment Suite

Introduction
The CBC Digital Archives is a rich resource for Canadian students in a technologically sophisticated and complex world. It is an audiovisual treasure trove of the Canadian experience in the twentieth century and beyond. This site is relentlessly Canadian in theme and perspective.

Most students today are motivated by visual learning experiences. The CBC Digital Archives combines an exciting and accurate record of Canada's past in the context of a rapidly evolving information-driven society. The current educational crucible demands that students develop a unique and challenging set of skills very remote from those of their parents and in some case, their teachers. This assessment suite is designed to assist teachers and their students as they work with the materials presented in the thousands of files presented on the CBC Digital Archives site.

Purpose of Assessment
Teachers know that assessment and evaluation are not pursued simply to gain a 'mark'. It is an important educational process in itself; important for both teachers and students as they make their way through curriculum materials and expectations. Good assessment practices and experiences help students develop important skills, gain valuable feedback and confidence, and also informs teacher instruction and reflection.

Assessment and the CBC Digital Archives
The modest suite of materials presented here should be seen as an adjunct and support to those materials, procedures, and expectations provided in the individual teacher's course and curriculum. They are open to modification and amendment to better fit the needs and characteristics of the individual teacher, curriculum, and most importantly, the students.

Principles of Assessment
Whether diagnostic, formative, or summative, assessment is a difficult but necessary art for teachers and students to master. It may measure the learning process as well as the learning products. While statements of assessment are often long and complex in curriculum documents, most practising teachers recognize that effective assessment follows a few basic, but critical principles.

Practical Tips for Assessment
In general assessment should be:

  • Carefully organized and consistent
  • Fair
  • Frequent
  • Varied
  • Reflective of the range of learners under analysis
  • Clear
  • Generous and supportive
  • Designed for ongoing remediation and revision
  • Supportive of student needs and encourage learner success
  • Smart (Assessment should not unduly burden teachers or students.)

Assessment Masters
The following assessment tools are intended to be used with many of the most common types of assignments presented on the various For Teachers activities suggested by the CBC Digital Archives. They are generic and thus should be used with care. Teachers should definitely amend and regularly revise these tools to best meet the needs and demands of their curricula, student body, and their own personal approach to teaching. The masters may be downloaded and then revised to better represent the work in your classroom. To help you further, many of these assessment sheets have an "other" section that allows you to easily include any important criteria for the particular education experience that you design for your students. These tools are either checklists or rubrics.

Checklists
Each checklist has space to include new items. Of course some of our suggested items can easily be replaced, removed, or simply not recorded.

Rubrics
Most teachers are readily familiar with rubrics. However, it is important to note that it is not always in the interests of either teacher or student to simply apply a generic rubric to a more particular education experience for a very specific group of learners. Rubrics need to be used somewhat deftly and sensitively. This suite contains a blank rubric that teachers may wish to use as a model for their own rubric generation. A few guiding suggestions for the use of rubrics and checklists are:

  • Do not use what you do not understand.
  • Be careful when employing rubrics and checklists designed by others. They may not fit your situation or needs or those of your students.
  • Be sure that the rubric accurately measures what has been taught or experienced.
  • If possible design your own or amend other rubrics, checklists, etc. for your particular use.
  • It is best to review the rubric or checklist with students before they begin a task or assignment. They will perform better when they fully understand how they are to be assessed. Ideally they should be able to accurately determine their own placement using the assessment tools.
  • If possible, employ a rubric or checklist several times over a period of study, using self or peer evaluation. This reduces your workload and builds up familiarity and skill in the students.
  • Review the effectiveness of your rubric after use. Be prepared to make ongoing revisions to sharpen its value to you and your students. As well, if a task changes, even slightly, it is wise to see that the assessment mechanism fully reflects these changes.

Build Your Own Rubric
Select an activity to assess.
Decide the criteria to be assessed.
Choose the descriptors to be used-keep it simple and accessible.
Decide on the scoring strategy to be employed.
Begin construction.

Some Tips
Use clear, simple, accurate language.
Design with the actual students in mind, not some abstract ideal conception.
Start with level 4 and identify the highest, but still reasonable and achievable qualities.
Do not overload the rubric with too many qualifiers and criteria for assessment.
Our Rubrics
The rubrics presented here have several specific features that may require some clarification.

  • These rubrics have spaces for the name of the student, the date of the assessment, and the CBC file that students are studying.
  • The scale runs from 4 to 1 because it is intended that students see and aspire to excellence first and understand clearly that 1 represents the lower standard of achievement.
  • The criteria are organized into four general educational categories: Knowledge/Understanding, Thinking/Inquiry, Communication, and Application. Teachers are free to note any more specific criteria in these boxes.
  • Not all criteria need or should be assessed each time a rubric is employed. Simply underline those that you intend to employ.
  • The "other "category allows the assessor to particularize the rubric and specify other criteria of specific importance to the teacher's program.
  • The bottom box encourages anecdotal comments. Rubrics simply circled or checked can be a trifle too skeletal and cold in terms of helpful feedback.
  • The assessor may be the teacher, a peer, or the student. This allows the student to develop familiarity with the assessment tool and can reduce teacher workload while still encouraging honest evaluation. It is best to employ the same or a similar rubric several times so both the student and teacher become familiar and skilled with its use.
  • The criteria are stated in simple language so both students and teachers understand clearly what is being measured. However, teachers must always be prepared to review the assessment tool thoroughly with students before assigning the activity. Encourage students to ask clarifying questions.

Assessment Suite
Our current assessment suite consists of the following tools for teacher and student application. These may be downloaded and reproduced for the classroom. Of course, revision is also encouraged.

Self-Assessment Checklist
Research Log (Useful for working on any CBC Digital Archives file)
Debates Rubric
Internet Research Rubric
Research Report Rubric
Oral Presentations Rubric
Position Paper Checklist
Visual Products Rubric
Group Work Rubric
Written Product Rubric
Video/Audio Analysis Sheet
Teacher's Tracking Sheet