Performance Tasks

Overview

Type of objectives

Thinking skills, problem-solving, decision-making, thought processes, reflective thinking

Number of students

Large group

Teacher prep time

Depends on the quality of the prompt

Class time

Depends on the requirements of the task

Scoring time

Depends on what and how the task is to be scored, generally long

Scoring method

Analytic scoring, analytic holistic scoring, focused holistic scoring

Possible problems

Teacher must be an active reader or listener; high quality questions and enabling activities are difficult to prepare; students can misunderstand what is being asked; the TEKS/task match can be difficult to achieve; time required to collect materials and administer tasks can interfere with course content coverage demands; equating tasks

Possible values

Can provide in-depth look at knowledge, skills and thought processes; requires active student participation; can mirror the type of work completed in various occupations; can involve students in citizenship roles; can support more meaningful learning experiences; time for completion can be reduced by using the same type of product in different content units; grants an opportunity to gain proficiency for all students; can and should be a learning activity; formative and summative assessments can be used

Frequently Asked Questions

What are performance tasks?

Performance tasks typically require the creation of a final product similar to those developed by companies or individuals in the world of work. They can include essays, but unlike the essay assessment they include multiple methods and activities before the product is produced. There is usually a group component for at least part of the task. Performance tasks usually include each of the following:

  • Group activities
  • A situation (scenario) of interest to students. (Student enthusiasm is directly related to teacher enthusiasm.)
  • Analysis and evaluation of multiple sources of information or data
  • Instructions which include the limits of the task's scope and the required components of the task
  • Use of content knowledge to be acquired in the course
  • Use of multiple skills
  • A final product; e.g., a film, a model, an experimental investigation, a poster, an essay, a computer program, an advertisement, a brochure, a big book, a stamp, a discussion, a picture, etc.

How can performance tasks be scored?

A single objective or several independent objectives of a performance task can be scored using analytic holistic scoring. This can make scoring more meaningful to the student. Focused holistic scoring allows the entire task to be scored as a whole, but the rubric and anchor papers are generally needed to make the scores meaningful to students. Peer-evaluation and self-evaluation can be used with the teacher confirming these evaluations. The use of student evaluation lends authenticity to the evaluation process and enables students to have a more realistic view of the quality of their work. The criteria can become more meaningful to students and be incorporated in their own work when they engage in peer and self-evaluation.

Preparing performance tasks requires time to develop the task and scoring method.

What types of performance products are there?

Performance products include content explanation products, decision making products, and problem solving products. The difference between these products and essays is in the complexity of the task and the inclusion of group and individual work. The vistas require the students to produce a performance product.

What is an example of a Content Explanation Product and how can students be guided to its development?

In schools where teacher teaming is activly used, this activity can be directed by the writing and computer teachers. The science teacher should receive information on student progress and continue to supply time for student research. The final product can receive a score from the language art teachers, the computer teacher, and the science teacher.

The product: A resume

The prompt: Imagine that you are Galileo looking for a new job shortly after his discovery of the moons of Jupiter. Write a resume for Galileo.

Materials: Enough samples of high quality resumes for each group to have 5 samples. These can be acquired from books on how to write a resume. You may want to choose a particular type of resume rather than use a wide variety of resume types for students to review.

Books, magazine articles, textbooks, encyclopedias and other sources of information on Galileo's life and work.

Suggested Sequence of Learning Experiences

1. Group Work Instructions

Examine 5 resumes and discuss how they are alike. The ways they are alike are the major components of resumes. For example, all resumes give educational background. The group recorder should keep a master list of components of resumes. The resume you write for Galileo should have the same components that the resumes you studied have. (Group participation scoring may be used at the end of the project. This process will need to be explained to students if they have not used it before. If students have studied resumes in other assignments, they may require only a short refresher on the required components rather than an actual review of the resumes.)

2. Teacher Directed Discussion

Have each group name one component they found in the resumes they studied. Write these on the board or on a transparency. Repeat this process until all components are present. With each component added be sure to ask if all groups agree that this is something that is found in all resumes. If the component is not found in all resumes, you may choose to let it be an optional component. Formative assessment: Informally assess the students understanding of what is required in a resume and guide them to the type of components that are appropriate for your students. Younger students will probably find fewer and therefore require fewer resume components than older more sophisticated students.

3. Individual Work Instructions

Copy the master list of components into your journal or log book. Add optional components or things that caused some resumes to be more interesting than others. You will use this list as you write the resume for Galileo. (Informal assessment checks can ensure that students are keeping the information they will need to complete the assignment.)

4. Group Work Instructions

Each member of your team is to use a different reference on Galileo reporting to the group about his accomplishment, education, and other pertinent information. This information can be kept in a data base or using a software program designed for note taking and referencing. Each member presents his or her findings to the group. You are responsible for taking notes on each presentation to add to your own notes. (Jig-sawing can be used in this activity.)

5. Individual Work Instructions

Write a resume for Galileo. You may use any notes you have. Be sure to include all of the required components of a resume.

6. Group Work Instructions

Read your resume to your group or give each member a copy of the resume. Have each group member make suggestions for making the resume better. Be sure all required resume components are present in each resume. (The results of this peer assessment should be used to improve student performance.)

7. Individual Work Instructions

Using the suggestions of your group, rewrite the resume. (Using computers makes this process much less painful for most students. Summative assessment can use the general holistic rubric.)

What is an example of a Decision-Making Product and how can students be guided to its development?

In schools where teachers teaming is activly used, this activity can be directed by the writing or math teacher. The science teacher should be certain that he or she receives information on student progress and that class work continues to revolve around this issue rather than "plowing ahead" to other topics which must be covered. The final product can receive a score from the language art teachers, the science teacher, and the math teacher, if numeric and statistical data are available and they almost always are.

The Product: A letter to the editor indicating an informed decision on an issue.

The Prompt: A local politician is supporting the building of local recharge dams to supply drinking water from an aquifer. Another politician is supporting the construction of a single above ground reservoir for water. Write a letter to the editor explaining your view. Be sure to include factual information supporting your view and reasons that will negate the most common arguments for the opposition.

Materials: Sufficient information on a local problem for all students to become involved in retrieving facts and opinions.

Group sets of copies of letters to the editor providing an opinion on any issue.

Suggested Sequence of Learning Experiences

1. Group Work Instructions

Use brainstorming to list the questions that should be answered in order to make the best choice between the solutions the two politicians offer. Example: What is the difference between the amount of available water the recharge dams will supply and the amount the reservoir will supply?

Remember in brainstorming no answer or question is wrong. Evaluation of the quality of the questions comes after brainstorming. You may use a decision-making matrix to decide what questions need to be answered and which ones will not be helpful in making your decision.

Include questions on each of the following: the environmental implications, the social implications, economic impacts, and tradeoffs.

2. Individual Work Instructions

Study the issue and develop a list of answers to as many questions as possible. You may use any available resources to help you formulate your answers. You may contact local support groups and politicians involved on both sides of the issue. The telephone book is a good resources. (Be sure students use good telephone etiquette when placing calls.)

3. Group Work Instructions

Develop a master list of answers to questions surrounding this issue. You may use a graphic organizer such as the one below to help you organize your answers.

Question

Facts or opinions supporting recharge dams

Facts or opinions supporting the above ground reservoir

Example: What is the difference between the amount of available water the recharge dams will supply and the amount the reservoir will supply?

If enough dams are built in critical zones enough water will be trapped in one 2 inch rain to furnish the city with drinking water for 1 year.

Only one dam will have to be built, so fewer land owners will have to be contacted.

4. Group Work Instructions

Examine 5 letters to the editor. Discuss their common components that is "how they are alike." For example, they all give opinions on an issue. These components should be mirrored in your own letter to the editor. Keep a master list of components of letters to the editor.

(If students have recently completed this survey, they may require only a short refresher rather than an actual review of the letters.)

5. Teacher Directed Discussion

Have each group name one component they found in the letters they studied. Write these on the board or on a transparency. Repeat this process until all components are present. With each component added be sure to ask if all groups agree that this is something that is found in all letters. If the component is not found in all letters, it can be used as an optional component. Formative assessment: The teacher should informally assess the students understanding of what is required in a letter. Younger students will probably find fewer and therefore require fewer components than older more sophisticated students.

6. Individual Work instructions

Write a letter to the editor explaining your view. Be sure to include factual information supporting your view and reasons that will negate the most common arguments for the opposition.

7. Group Work Instructions

Read the letter to your group or give each member a copy of your letter. Have each group member make suggestions for making your letter better. (The results of this peer formative assessment should be used to improve student performance.)

8. Individual work instructions

Rewrite your letter. If you believe that this issue is important, you may submit your letter to the local newspaper. (Using computers makes this process much less painful for most students. Summative assessment can use the general holistic rubric.)

What is an example of a Problem-Solving Product and how can students be guided to its development?

The Product:An innovative solution to a design problem.

The Prompt:Make a presentation to the class providing another solution to the local water supply problem using what you have learned about our water problems. Explain the strengths and weaknesses of your solution. Use scientific and economic principles to prove that your solution is workable.

Suggested Sequence of Learning Experiences:

1. Group work instructions

Brainstorm possible solutions to the problem. Remember that no idea is bad and even ideas that may have been tried before should be included in the group's list.

2. Individual work instructions

Select the most promising solution the group has discussed to present as an alternative solution to the problem and develop your presentation. Be sure to have visuals to help you present your solution.

3. Group work instructions

Make your presentation to your group. The group should contribute suggestions for making the presentation better rather than dole out negative criticism. The group cannot simply say this part is not good. (Working with the speech or language arts teacher can enhance this part of the task.) (Criteria can be developed by viewing good presentations.)

4. Individual work instructions

Revise your work and make your presentation to the class. (Students can a use a checklist for peer review. Summative assessment can be made using the general holistic rubric.)

What must a teacher do to prepare for an assessment using a Performance Task?

  1. Prepare a performance task to include:
    • At least one group activity. The product of this activity must be used by individual students in order to complete the task.
    • A situation (scenario) of interest to students.
    • Analysis and evaluation of multiple sources of information or data.
    • Instructions which include the limits of the task's scope and the required components of the task.
    • Use of content knowledge to be acquired in the course.
    • A final product, e.g., a film, a model, an experimental investigation, a poster, a computer program, an advertisement, a brochure, a big book, a stamp, a discussion, a picture, etc.
    • Materials and procedures required for implementing the task.
    • Imbedded assessment opportunities.
  2. Explain how the task can be implemented in the classroom and include hints for success.
  3. Outline the criteria you and your students might use for judging the product.
  4. Decide how to "sell" the use of this task to other members on your team.
  5. Describe how this task could be linked to other forms of assessment.