Thinking conversations: An open-ended and exploratory approach to assessing students' thinking competence

Lee, Scott
March 2012
New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies;2012, Vol. 47 Issue 1, p5
Academic Journal
Performance-based assessment offers a useful approach to assess students' processes in critical thinking and problem-solving. The use of rubrics in performance assessment poses the risk of channelling assessors to look for features of task performance that are predetermined from the adult's perspectives and ignore other aspects not foreseen. This paper reports on a qualitative study involving 28 seven- to eight-year-olds in a New Zealand classroom where thinking conversations were used to elicit insights into emergent and unanticipated aspects of students' thinking within and outside the context of planned curricular activities. The findings also revealed that the students" thinking activities were not always noticed, recognised, and responded to in the classroom. The strategy reported here offers a more open-ended and exploratory approach than conventional assessment methods such as tests and structured performance assessments. It allows the identification of specific and unforeseen aspects of students' abilities for formative purposes or further targeted evaluation.


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