Collaborative Inquiry Project – Grades 1-12

Gathering Valid and Reliable Evidence to Determine a Grade - Rich Tasks

Project Overview
Educators in this project conducted collaborative inquiry to investigate the big question:
How can we gather valid and reliable evidence of learning to inform our professional judgement
to determine a grade? They developed specific, focussed inquiry questions related to the Theory of Action and are sharing the results of their ongoing professional learning on this site.

Project Theory of Action
If we:
  • Plan and gather the information in a way that is triangulated and collected over time
  • Design rich tasks that are meaningful and aligned with the learning goals and success criteria
  • Take steps to ensure that students are partners in assessment
  • Reflect deeply on that evidence
  • Use the evidence to inform our professional judgements about student learning

Then we can accurately and effectively communicate information about the learning (including determine a grade).

Board-Developed Inquiry Question Board-Developed Inquiry Question

How do we ensure that the tasks we provide and facilitate are rich tasks that allow students to clearly communicate their thinking and learning in a variety of ways? 

- Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board

Reflecting on the Learning Reflecting on the Learning

Students are more engaged – working collaboratively with each other, asking questions of each other rather than directing them first to the teacher, and talking to each other about the learning goals and success criteria.

Students are more aware that there are different ways to approach a task and students are less afraid to make mistakes, knowing that a lot of learning takes place as a result of mistakes.

Students now know that the process of learning has become the most important factor, and being right or wrong is not as important.

Students have learned how to be good group members, to work collaboratively, and to take ownership of the learning – contributing at a level they are comfortable with and challenging themselves as needed.

Evidence Evidence

As a team we had determined that a rich task in mathematics would:
  • Explicitly align with learning goals and success criteria
  • Contain Open Questions and/or Parallel Tasks
  • Show that what the student is doing is what the student is learning
  • Allow students to apply knowledge in new ways
  • Provide choice for the learner
  • Engage students
  • Be accessible to all (multiple entry points)
  • Allow for multiple possible answers
  • Allow for multiple strategies to get the answer
  • Be tied to the Math Processes expectations
Within this framework we found that our teaching practices changed and evolved in a variety of ways including: determining clearly what the students needed to learn, planning collaboratively to address that learning, guiding and observing the opportunities for learning , providing feedback, and collecting evidence of learning using a variety of data from several different sources.

As a result, students are more comfortable, relaxed, and willing to take chances within this environment.

Key Learnings Key Learnings
  • We began to look more at communication with students, our own observations, and the work the students were producing. The divide between the teacher and students was significantly minimized.
  • Beginning with the Learning Goal, followed by co-construction of success criteria and then student/group based investigations, the learning environment became much more student-centered and much less teacher-directed.
  • Through discussions, questioning, and sharing of strategies and work (both within small groups and as a class) the students became clearly aware of their strengths and what their next steps were. Each activity became a diagnostic for our next rich task, based on the evidence and feedback provided by the students.
  • Our understanding of Assessment of Learning has grown to include the process, conversations, observations, and product rather than just product alone.
  • This "triangulation" of data provides us with a much broader scope of assessing learning and has allowed students to bring their unique learning styles to each task. Based on consistent criteria, we can better engage students by allowing them to demonstrate, in their preferred way, based on their learning style, what they have learned and how they have learned it.
  • Throughout this Collaborative Inquiry process, as students were exposed to more and more open-ended rich tasks, we observed a strong paradigm shift occur. The students began to take more ownership of the tasks and the responsibility for learning was released from the teacher and downloaded to the students.