Looking at Student Work: Why, What, and How

Why should we analyze our student's work?

Teachers in the past assigned work to students for many reasons. Probably first among them was to generate an evaluative grade to show student progress, or lack thereof. Little feedback was provided beyond the grade or mark, and students did not get the chance to process their own work collaboratively with the teacher, or even a peer.
Students learned little about their own learning from doing the work, and teachers assumed a lot but learned little about their students thinking process.

So, what kind of work should we analyze?

We understand now that in order to understand a student's thinking process, we must assign meaningful work that makes the thinking explicit, and use that work to help the student grow.

“Instead of pressing for student work flow as we usually do, judging quickly the value of the flow’s direction, we must on a regular basis suspend flow, capture images of the work interrupted, study the images calmly and deliberately, and explore together what they may mean”.Joseph P. McDonald Power of Protocols

Is there a recommended way to look at student work?

Yes, collaboratively. Looking together at student work is the only way to really see what is there. We bring to our own student's work biases that may hinder us from being objective. There are several good protocols to use when looking together at student work.

What else can we learn from student work?

We can learn a lot about our own teaching and how we can improve our practice. We will become more purposeful in assigning work making explicit the focus of our teaching and the student's learning experiences.
“Students’ work is the text we read in order to understand our own work”.

Video links for Analyzing Student Work

A thirty minute video explaining and showcasing the Tuning Protocol, produced by the Annenburg Foundation

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