Michael T. Nettles, professor of education, has received a $90,000 seed grant from IBM Corp. to begin development of prototypes of computerized, multi-media learning tasks in mathematics and science for elementary school students. The multi-media tasks will emphasize flexible performance assessments.
This project fits in with the national movement to transform tests from tools for sorting and screening students to tools for improving teaching and learning, says Nettles, a former senior research scientist at Educational Testing Service and a former member of the National Council on Education Standards and Testing.
Nettles is currently a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, a group that develops policy guidance for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, an ongoing effort to measure what U.S. students know and can do in various subjects.
In the new computerized plan, Nettles says, the emphasis will be on having students apply their knowledge and skills to solve the kinds of problems people confront in everyday life. More flexibility will be provided in the amount of time students have to complete various tasks, and in the conditions and places where assessments occur. The program also will give students immediate and continuous feedback about their performance, along with coaching to improve their performance.
The new project complements IBM elementary mathematics and science instructional products now under development.