World Class Tests
World Class Arena is an international
initiative designed to identify and assess gifted and
talented students around the world. It was devised by
the British government Department for Education and
Skills (DfES), and World Class Arena items have been
trialled by teachers and students in the UK, Australia,
New Zealand and the US. The materials were developed
by the Assessment and Evaluation Unit (AEU) at the University
of Leeds and the Mathematics Assessment Resource Service
(MARS) at the Universities of Nottingham and Durham.
We publish here some of the research completed by these
to Assess New Educational Goals
Professor Jim Ridgway and Dr Sean McCusker
This paper describes the ways in
which World Class Tests have sought to define new educational
goals for mathematics and problems solving, as well
as designing effective assessments of those skills.
Computer-based tests can present new sorts of tasks,
where dynamic displays show changes in several variables
over time. Interaction makes computers well suited to
the assessment of process skills-discovering rules,
finding relationships, developing effective strategies-by
the use of simulations, microworlds and interactive
games. Students can work with complex realistic data
sets, using professional methods. The paper illustrates
these claims, and describes students' strengths and weaknesses
observed on live tests.
All or Nothing
- Problem Solving by High Achievers in Mathematics
Marja van den Heuvel-Panhuizen and Conny
This article describes the first
results gained from a problem solving test that was
administered to fourth-grade students in the Netherlands.
The students involved are all high achievers in mathematics.
The analysis of the student responses gives cause for
concern. The often-heard belief that teachers do not
need to worry about the better students is clearly in
need of revision. It turned out that when high achievers
in mathematics are challenged to take on non-typical
problems, their abilities are more limited than expected.
The study revealed that the students wrote down hardly
anything on their scrap paper to solve certain problems.Also
it was found that they were not very persistent in
looking for a solution. In this paper we illustrate
these first findings by discussing the results of one
of the test problems.
Losing your inhibitions:
possible effects on assessment of dynamic, interactive
Dr Peter Pool
This paper examines some of the
issues that arise in writing mathematics assessment
questions for presentation on a computer screen. It
questions the assumption that the computer screen functions
simply as a replica of a sheet of paper. It seeks to
argue that the medium of presentation and expression
is in fact an inherent part of the discourse of mathematics
and that any move of assessment from one medium to another
changes that discourse. There will be new possibilities
for cognitive activity and the loss of others. In this
way the assessment medium redefines the subject.
James Nicholson, Jim Ridgway and Sean McCusker
Reasoning with data is already
pervasive in society, and its importance as a life skill
is increasing. We argue that the current statistics
curriculum in the United Kingdom at the secondary level
does not prepare our young people adequately, and suggest
ways in which it could be improved.