Sunday, September 18, 2016

Student-Centered Learning


I have spent over 40 years preaching the need for schools designed for success rather than for failure. Yesterday I happened upon an article by Nicholas Donohue that presents convincing evidence that that is being done by transforming high schools in the New England states. It is call student-centered learning. Also see Andrew Cohen What School Could Be.

My attempt in 1981-1989 used a campus computer system at NWMSU, textbook, lecture, laboratory, AND voluntary student presentations, research, and projects. This work has been further developed in Multiple-Choice Reborn and summarized in Knowledge and Judgment Scoring - 2016. In 1995, Knowledge Factor patented an online confidence based learning system (now in amplifier). Masters, 1982, developed Rasch partial credit scoring (PCS).

All three put the student in the position of being in charge of learning and reporting; at all levels of thinking. They approached evaluating an apple from the skin, as traditional multiple-choice (guess) testing is done.

Partial Credit Scoring just polished the apple skin. The emphasis was still on the surface, the score, at that time. Knowledge Factor made the transition from the concrete level of thinking to understanding (skin to core), and provided the meat between in amplifier. Nuclear power plant operators and doctors were held to a much higher responsibility (self-judgment) standard (far over 75%, over 90% mastery) than is customary in a traditional high school classroom (60% for passing).

My students voted to give knowledge and judgment equal value (1:1 or 50%:50%). Voluntary activities replaced one letter grade (10% each). The students were then responsible for reporting what they knew or could do. They could mix several ways of learning and reporting.

A student with a knowledge score of 50% and a quality score of 100% would end up with about the same test score as a student who marked every question (guessed) for a quality, quantity, and test score of 75% (with no judgment).

These two students are very different. One is at the core of being educated (scholar). The other is only viewing the skin (tourist). The first one has a solid basis for self-instruction and further learning; is ready for independent scholarship. The apple seeds germinate (raise new questions) and produce more fruit (without the tree).

We know much less about the second student, and about what must be “re-taught”. The apple may just be left on the tree in what is often a vain effort to ripen it. Such is the fate of students in schools designed for failure (grades A to F).

In extreme cases, courses are classified by difficulty or assigned PASS/FAIL grades. My General Biology students were even “protected” so I could not know which student was in the course for a grade or pass/fail.

Students assess the level of thinking required in a course by asking on the first day, “Are your tests cumulative?” If so, they leave. This is a voluntary choice to stay at the lowest levels of thinking. Memory care residents do not have that choice.

There is a frightening parallel between creating a happy environment for memory care residents here at Provision Living at Columbia, and creating an academic environment (national, state, school, and classroom) that yields a happy student course grade. Both end up at the end of the day pretty much where they started, at the lowest levels of thinking.

Many students made the transition from memorizing nonsense for the next test to questioning, answering, and verifying; learning for themselves and knowing they were “right”. This is self-empowering. They started getting better grades in all of their courses. They had experienced the joy of scholarship, an intrinsic reward. “I do know what I know.” The independent quality score in knowledge and judgment scoring directed their path.

Student centered learning is not new. The title is. This is important in marketing to institutionalized education. What is new is that at last entire high schools are now being transformed for the right reason: student development rather than standardized test scores based on lower levels of thinking during instruction and testing. 

These students should be ready for college or other post high school programs. They should not be the under-prepared college students we worked with. The General Biology course was to last for only a few years; until the high schools did all of this work. In practice, the course became permanent. Biology did not became a required course in all high schools.

My interest in this project was to find a way to know what each student really knew, believed, could do, and was interested in, when a new science building was constructed in 1980 with 120 seat lecture halls. The unexpected consequence of promoting student development, based on the independent quality and quantity scores, was not only a bonus but appropriately needed for under-prepared college students. Over 90% of students voluntarily switched from guessing right answers to reporting what they actually knew and could do.

In my  experience, the multiple-choice test, when administered and scored properly (quantity and quality) yields as good (if not better) an insight into student ability as many overly elaborate and expensive assessments other than actual performance. Student development (becoming comfortable using higher levels of thinking) is an added bonus.



Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Copy Detector - RMS


This copy detector is an auto-pilot version of the original cheat checker that could point to the source person. Here (Sheet 8) a pairing index ranks answer sheets by the degree of pairing (Sheet 9).

An interesting feature of this right marked scoring (RMS) nursing test is that Unique pairings (red)  occurred only toward the end of the test. 

There is no distinct break in the beginning of the pairing index and at the end of the pairing count plots to indicate cheating.







Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Test Marks with Student ID by Item

A chart showing marks with student ID by item number is a classic printout for multiple-choice tests for use in class discussions. It is simple, but it lacks the analysis results.

Grade book software can import these files.

This post, #20, ends the pages from the nine-patch.com website.



The real magic is using these printouts is in pointing out where students and teachers should spend their time most productively. 

Detailed analyses can be found in Multiple-Choice Reborn and Rasch Model Audit. With the end of NCLB and CCSS, fertile soil may yet be found for knowledge and judgement scoring. It is time to do multiple-choice right. Give students the option of Smart Testing along with traditional Dumb Testing.



Nursing Right Mark Score (RMS)
Biology Knowledge and Judgment Scoring (KJS)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Guttman with Scores by Item Difficulty


The lowest scoring student is on the bottom line. The most difficult item is on the right side. The lower right corner is as bad as things can get. The upper left corner is as good things can get.

Again, knowledge and judgment scoring (KJS) has more information to work with (accurate, honest, and fair) than right mark scoring (RMS). The quality score (%RT) is in the 80%s all the way down to a student test score of  about 60%. 

Most of these students actually know what they know and what they have yet to learn. They have a solid basis for learning more. KJS promotes student quality.


Nursing Right Mark Score (RMS)
Biology Knowledge and Judgment Scoring (KJS)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Test Maker Counseling Matrix - RMS

The test maker view of a right mark scored (RMS) test is based on item difficulty (%), discrimination ability (A,B,C,D), and item performance (mastery, unfinished, and discriminating).

There is no right mark score (RMS) test taker student counseling matrix as students have no vote on which items to select for their individualized test.


This is a traditional item analysis plus a ranking based on how the item performed on the test. For example, two items have a difficult of 50%. One is unfinished (the entire class is having trouble, or there is a problem with the item or instruction). The other ranks at the highest for discrimination ability (one group knows or can do something that the rest in the class do not know or cannot do).


Students of all abilities missed the first item; mainly lower scoring students missed the second.

Right Mark Scoring (RMS)

Test Taker Counseling Matrix - RMS & KJS

The right mark score (RMS) student test taker counseling matrix for biology is the same as for nursing in the prior post. Again there is another example of two items with the same difficulty (58) but classified differently: unfinished and discriminating. Question 50 was a tally item. 

The knowledge and judgment scoring (KJS) student test taker counseling matrix for biology presents a student view of the test not possible with just RMSing. 

  • (E)xpected             most marked & most right
  • (G)uessing             few marked & few right
  • (M)isconception      most marked & few right
  • (D)iscriminating      few marked & most right

As students select items for their individualized tests they are also voting for item performance. Item 50 is an example of a tally that is not scored for a grade.
Item 6 (58%) was labeled unfinished by the test maker view and here is labeled the only misconception by the test taker view.
Both sets of data  can be sorted (mined) for a variety of relationships. One is to look for copying.


Right Mark Scoring (RMS)


Knowledge and Judgment Scoring (KJS)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Test Performance Profile


The Test Performance Profile (see below) was invented to guide item, test, student, teacher and instruction development. Item, Percent Difficulty, and Discriminating are listed in each column sorted first by item and then by difficulty for Master/Easy, Unfinished, and Discriminating.

The high scoring RMS nursing test has far more mastery items than the other two categories. The KJS biology test has far more discriminating items then the total of the other two categories. It also has item 9 flagged as BAD. It may need to be dropped and the test re-scored.

Low scoring Unfinished and highly Discriminating items need to be discussed in class. This information is examined in greater detail in the Student Counseling Matrixes.

Standardized tests do not contain Mastery/Easy and Unfinished items. The goal is to obtain the needed distribution of scores with the fewest items. Discriminating items have a far higher Avg PBR (0.39 and 0.40) than Mastery (which has near zero) and Unlimited (0.12 and 0.15).

Test reliability or reproducibility is estimated by KR20 and alpha. It increases with the length of the test and with discriminating items.  

The Discriminating, 50 item and 100 item values for reliability, are surprisingly close for these two tests with very different students (nursing and general biology), student preparation, and assessment (RMS and KJS). In summary, teacher skill takes precedence over statistics in selecting questions for a test. 

The nursing test measures mastery. The biology test measures the different things that students found of interest in reading assignments and other course actives: lecture and laboratory. The biology students did a good job in picking items to report what they knew and what they had yet to learn (only 9 Unfinished). 

The two columns for Unfinished and Discriminating for biology may look similar to those for nursing if the biology students were forced to guess. The practical, useful, details are in the Student Counseling Matrixes.


Right Mark Scoring (RMS)

Knowledge and Judgment Scoring (KJS)