Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Student Success in Sexuality Standard: Small Steps

From the 2018 Year 12 Health students, there was lots of feedback around workload for assessments. Many found there was a significant amount to do, and as a result some became demotivated. This was particularly evident in the Sexuality and Gender assessment, because many students did not hand in the assessment at all, or did not complete it (reducing their potential grade), and this was mentioned several times in the end of year feedback.

The assessment had 3 tasks in 2018. 3 tasks that required lots of evidence to support their explanations. SO. MUCH. MARKING. Using student feedback, and my desire to decrease teacher workload too, this year I reduced the assessment to 2 tasks, with less questions than previously. I cannot recall actually creating an assessment task before, aside from during uni, but by using examples from other schools, TKI, and NZQA exemplars/clarifications, I felt confident the students had the potential to meet any levels of achievement to demonstrate their learning, even with less than 2/3 of what they were previously asked to do. As a safety barrier, and a confidence booster, I asked Rachael Dixon from NZHEA to have a read through, to double check the task was suitable before the final step of the standard moderation process. 

Not surprisingly, there was an increase in the number of submission of assessments, as well as the motivation to complete the assessment tasks this year. With less to do, and the same amount of time (as well as emphasising they were lucky to have 2 tasks instead of 3), I feel overall the reduction of workload for the assessment made a positive difference. This is from my own interactions with students; the conversations I have with them, as well as as the below data (see another post with data/results comparison here). 

There has been a considerable increase in the amount of students who are passing with an Achieved, rather than Not Achieving when compared to last year. This is a win for me! The next step is to increase depth of understanding to encourage more students to achieve with Merit or an Excellence. To do so, I would like to spend time getting students to mark exemplars from previous years, and justifying why they gave that mark with the marking criteria. I didn't do this in class for gender and sexuality this year, but I did do peer marking with a practice scenario (the kids struggled grading their peers though, in case they hurt each other's feelings). Students marked and justified grades for the external, and were really engaged, as well as accurate with their grades and justifications, so I think this may help with understanding of what to do to meet each level of achievement for the gender and sexuality assessment next year.

Interestingly, when I compare the feedback from 2018 students to 2019 students, majority of students said their favourite topic and assessment was gender and sexuality last year, but this year the favourite topic was spread evenly across the 4 units/assessments. So even though many rated the unit lower for enjoyment than last year, there was still a greater pass rate. I'm looking forward to seeing next year how the cohort engage with the content, and seeing whether the results continue to grow!

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