Monday, January 28, 2013

The Perks of Data

Pre-test grades earned by students
I am beginning the second week of my semester this week and learning a lot about my students. As I have talked about in previous entries, I have students fill out an “interest inventory” or get to know you assignment at the beginning of my class. This semester, I am also piloting a pre-test that measures what students already know about art. At the end of the class they will take this test again (with some different questions on the same information) to display the growth they have made in my course. My interest inventory has always told me much about what my students wanted to learn and what they already knew, but the pre-test has taken it to a new level. I am now able to gage the level of understanding for specific concepts. I put a question in the pre-test asking students if they had ever taken an art class before, it turns out that 55% have prior art experience while 45% do not. Almost half of my students are completely new to this subject so depending on their interests, they may have never drawn realistically before. I analyzed the data from the test to see what concepts students were widely familiar with and which they were often incorrect about. Students understood foreground, pattern, texture, portraits, primary colors, mixed media, and abstract art, or they were at least able to guess the correct answers for them. I was surprised to see how much they already feel comfortable with coming in. This tells me that when I get to these concepts in the curriculum, students won't need as much time in the lesson to focus on the terms, but perhaps we can spend more time going over examples and brainstorming for their projects. On the other hand, students were often incorrect on the questions about linear perspective, value, art criticism, and cubism. This data seems to match up with what are usually some of the most difficult lessons to teach. Having this information early will help me focus in on these lessons and provide multiple ways of learning. I added a question to my interest inventory that I found to be very helpful in understanding what methods I should use to teach these lessons. When asked which method students preferred for learning a new technique, they preferred demonstrations most often (see below).

Now I know what my students feel more comfortable with, what they will most likely struggle with, and how they learn best. With a class of 260 students, trends in data are very important to pay attention to! I will use this data to guide my instruction and look forward to seeing student growth at the end of my semester. 

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