Conversation In Assessment

Emulating the intuitive interactions of talented teachers

Conversation as High-quality Assessment

Oral and written communication is listed as one of those crucial components of high-quality assessment and effective communication is listed as one of the Nebraska Standards for Career Readiness. Within the context of scientific assessment, it is useful to think of written and verbal communication as functioning as an expression of scientific understanding as well as the ability to justify claims based on evidence and explain the associated reasoning. Inquiry science is often facilitated by conversation-style communications with peers and teachers.

A small body of work exists in the area of using these conversations as part of performance assessments, and the term conversation-based assessment (CBA) has been coined by researchers in this area. (Sparks, Zapata-Rivera, Lehman, James, & Steinberg, 2018) This method of assessment is highly dependent on the ability of technology to support it, which is discussed also in Strand D. Conversation-based assessment builds on a constructed-response item type in that it similarly allows for flexible and open responses. CBA allows that flexible and open response, but has the added advantage of allowing for questions and further probing adapted to the initial responses that students provide. (Jackson, Castellano, Brockway, & Lehman, 2018) These conversations have the added benefit of modeling real-world dialog, which can be a comfortable way to explain ideas.

In alignment with my problem of practice, which is to investigate ways that a chatbot might support three-dimensional assessment, it will be useful to examine possible item architectures and identify areas in which conversation is a key component. The spreadsheet below is a small sample of situations in which conversation-based assessment could provide an opportunity for , rich, interesting, and thorough dialog.

Conversation-based assessment: interactive performance tasks that utilize engaging conversation and relevant context to identify student knowledge and provide feedback to teachers and learners. 
Task Formats Conducive to Conversation-Based Assessment