Students will finish their D block examinations this morning, marking the official end of the Fall Term. Proctor's operation on a trimester schedule provides three exam weeks throughout the academic year and while these week long periods traditionally saw comprehensive examinations for each course of study, the integration of varied assessments have augmented the evaluation of student learning after each trimester.
Synthesizing content from the entire term remains a primary goal for every teacher. Many year long courses require a cumulative assessment in order to ensure students have the skills necessary to move forward in the course, while other courses, which must be term-independent in order to accommodate students leaving for and returning from off-campus programs, often take advantage of final projects to assess student learning.
My Economics class benefits from this situation as students have worked over the past week and a half to analyze the financial statements of the Proctor Ski Area. Students met with members of the Board of Trustees on Friday for lunch to consult with individuals who have shared their expertise in finances with the school.
Each group's task was to evaluate the current cost structure of the ski hill and then propose new or altered programs to increase revenues while minimizing costs. Students presented these projects on Tuesday and Wednesday before a panel of faculty volunteers.
The conversations during lunch with trustee members were incredibly beneficial for the students on a number of levels. Not only were students required to be fully prepared to present their ideas to professionals, but were able to develop relationships with individuals charged with making critical decisions regarding the future of the school. As one trustee commented, "It is so refreshing to work with these students, hear their ideas and see their education in action."
In Adam Jones' Psychology class, students participated in a simulation activity that gave each student a specific character to play. The character's age, health, and abilities were provided prior to the scenario being read.
Students were told they were the only twelve human beings left on the planet after a nuclear fallout, but only seven would survive given the supplies available. The class had to decide who would be left to die and why. Needless to say, a lively discussion ensued with meaningful conversations at the end discussing human behavior. Watch the short clip of the class in action below:
In Matt Mackenzie's Surveying course, student groups were charged with the task of surveying a parcel of land. Connor and Ben acknowledge that the process was not easy, but the end result was a feeling of significant accomplishment. Each student group then had to synthesize the data collected, complete an official survey of their plot and present the survey.
Melanie Maness' Comparative Religion course has also been working on final projects. In small groups, students read and reviewed a book of their choosing, all provoking thoughts on the various religions they have studied. Groups presented a summary of the book followed by a biography of the author in order to better understand the perspectives from which the book was written.
As students embrace varied perspectives as a way to synthesize course content in Comparative Religion, it became clear this course intentionally teaches empathy…a quality essential to a caring community, but one that is rarely overtly taught in an academic curriculum.
Over the past week of final exams and projects, students and faculty have worked incredibly hard to culminate the Fall Term with meaningful assessments that allow students to demonstrate their learning in creative, hands-on, practical applications.
End of term assessments come in all forms at Proctor.
While the core goal of evaluating cumulative student learning over the duration of the term remains unchanged, teachers have significant freedom to choose their own assessment model.
Students in Psychology use simulations to integrate concepts studied throughout the term.
Student directed assessment places the ownership of learning on students rather than teachers.
When students are responsible for not only their own learning, but also their peers' learning, effort and performance are often elevated.
Brad jumps right into his 'character' during Psychology, helping create as realistic a simulation as possible.
Integrating the Board of Trustees into Economics' final project allowed students to share their ideas about how to make the Proctor Ski Area profitable.
In Surveying, students use all of the skills taught throughout the term to complete their survey of a given land parcel.
Connor works diligently to complete his final draft and acknowledges that he is very proud of the work he's accomplished in this course during the Fall Term.