Performance Stations in Math
by
Liliane Gauthier
Teacher / Educational Consultant
Saskatoon Board of Education

 
   Performance stations allow students to either discover or revisit concepts. In discovery stations, students are presented with a problem or a question where they need to decide on strategies to solve the problem. Students discover patterns, relationships or mathematical understandings. In activity stations designed to revisit concepts, student's practise skills or use alternate strategies to review concepts.
   Performance stations can also be worded in such a way that students can be assessed on their knowledge of concepts and their ability to use what they know in new situations. Performance testing allows students to use strategies that cater to their learning styles. Manipulatives are provided for the hands-on learner. Teachers can follow each students thinking process by carefully wording questions that enable students to explain their work and to reflect upon what they know and what they have learned.
 
 
  What is performance assessment?
   It is assessment based on students' demonstration of their ability to use the skills they have learned and the conceptual understanding they have developed in the context of real-world application or of complex problems.

 
  Advantages:
   Students

  can display all their ability, not just speed and accuracy

  can be more creative

  do their own organising and thinking

  realise that mathematics is not memorisation but a process

  are more easily motivated with real tasks

  experience the usefulness and power of mathematics
 
Teachers

  meld assessment within instruction

  can better assess strengths and weaknesses of student understanding
  of the instructional process

  collect more complete information for planning and programming

  allow for investigations and long-term problems

  incorporate manipulatives in the assessment process
 
Parents

  see examples of real performance

  can be provided with comprehensive evaluation of student ability

  understand more clearly the evaluation of the math program

  see evidence that students are learning to think

  make connections between school and real life

  are presented a broader picture of a rich curriculum

 
  Criteria for performance tasks
   The task must

  reflect the curriculum.

  use appropriate processes of learning.

  lead to other problems, raise other
  questions and possibilities.

  be thought-provoking and foster perseverance.

  allow for the student to be the worker and the decision maker.

  provides opportunity for interaction and the deepening of
  meaning and understanding.

  be safe, developmentally appropriate and can be done at
  school or at home.

  develop thinking in a variety of styles and contribute to
  positive attitudes.

  have more than one answer and provide opportunity
  for multiple approaches for accomplishing it.

 
  Developing tasks
   Ideas for tasks can be

  found in textbook and resource materials

  developed from newspapers, etc.

  teacher created

  homework

 
  Management
   You can organize the performance tasks

  as one centre in the classroom and students take turns at
  the centre throughout the day

  to last throughout an afternoon (1 1/2 hours - 2 hours) where
  students rotate from one centre to the other

  as cooperative learning groups

  as group work or as individual tasks

  as research projects or homework

 
  Assessment techniques (teacher and self-evaluation)
   Assessment is accomplished through

  observation and questioning

  portfolio and journal writing (with the help of rubrics)

  presentations and projects

 
  Adapted from:
   Assessment in Mathematics: Myths, Models, Good Questions and Practical Ideas.
This is an NCTM publication written in 1991. This book can be ordered from the Book Bureau (#6745) for $11.00. The video that accompanies this book can be ordered through the NCTM. (Also see other references listed in the curriculum guide.)

To go directly to the performance stations select a grade level from grade 6, grade 7, grade 8 and grade 9.

 


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