Alternative Assessment Methods

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Q1. Are alternative assessments more valid tools when addressing differences such as learning styles, cultural expectations, ethnicity, gender, or age? Why? Alternative assessment methods such as assigning creative writing projects, art projects, portfolios, and group projects are often thought to be more valid tools when grading nontraditional students (such as older students and ESL students). In some cases, they can be helpful. For example, a visually-oriented learner might get more excited making a poster promoting proper use of the ocean's resources rather than writing a paper or taking a test. However, teachers must be careful to ensure that the material the student is required to learn is genuinely being tested by the structure of the assignment. The student should have to find a way to illustrate the problems of pollution, not merely make a pretty picture with magic markers. Alternative assessments can also be a way to track progress over time on a personal level, rather than merely measure the student by an objective standard, such as when an ESL student is allowed to keep a portfolio of his or her writing assignments, rewrite them, and see how his or her language skills have improved. This is more motivating than comparing the student's language skills against the mastery of a native speaker. Graded class discussions which allow older students to talk about their life experiences to contextualize the material can make them feel more like valued components of
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