An example of assessment

Post the following in a blog entry:

The Context

Intercultural Communication: This lesson begins the online discussion aspect of the course. This lesson starts face to face and then goes online. Edward T. Hall said, “Culture hides much more than it reveals” (  ). A common assumption with my students in this class is that language is the primary challenge they will face when teaching ESL students. In this lesson students explore their assumptions of what culture is and analyse how an everyday activity can be loaded with cultural aspects that they may never have considered. This ‘hidden’ culture is what is explored throughout the semester. After the baseline writing (Assessment 1) is completed, students will explore cultural maps. A cultural map is a set of ‘rules’ one follows in an everyday activity such as taking the elevator; the first is f2f  in order to scaffold for those students who may not be familiar with this kind of interactive activity. The second cultural map is an individual effort, but may deepen or evolve with the forum discussion which mimics intercultural skill building. It is reiterative. This  lesson sets students up for further academic study of theory and models of intercultural communication which will involve self-examination and reflection.

Students are:

Post degree learners taking a Teaching ESL certificate program

Domestic students who include immigrants from China and Germany

Public school teachers aged 25- 60

Undergrad students in their last semester of business, tourism and arts programs

(this group includes a range of boomers, gen x, y, z and international students)


The lesson

The objective of this lesson is for students to understand that culture is learned and a complex set of ‘rules’ that are not necessarily obvious. There will be 3 assessment items.

Assessment 1: Students respond to the question: what is culture?

Assessment- completion of an articulate answer that is no more than 5 sentences. Complete earns ‘complete’

Rationale: This is a baseline assessment of knowledge so it does not require a grade; also, there is an opportunity for intervention if I feel the response needs to be revised for clarity, or depth. The international students are supported by not having to worry about losing marks as they begin to navigate me as a teacher. Because students will bring various lived experiences, responses may vary from naïve to insightful and it is not the knowledge that I am seeking to assess.

Assessment 2: Immediately after the face to face cultural map task, students engage in an online forum to describe and explain a different cultural map of their choice (e.g. standing in a line up).


Part one- Identify- who it involves, the context and the rules of the map (do/don’t)

Explain-  why you think the rules exist

Part 2-     Respond to 2 peers in a way that helps them dig deeper into their understanding of their map.  Each person may only be in conversation with 2 others to start and must complete the entries within a week. Once all students have 2 discussion partners they are free to engage with other students.

Assessment:      Identification, explanation includes all parts: 5 marks

Responses lead to deeper exploration/or explanation: 5 marks

Rationale: Students have autonomy to choose a cultural map which allows them to work with content they are comfortable with, and culture specific.  For students unfamiliar with the online environment, this reduces stress as they practice using the tool and communicating in writing only. Limiting the number in the group can help focus conversations which can build trust and rapport. Having a timeline helps guide students and makes it manageable for me to engage in the forums and step in if necessary.  Moving from formative to summative eases those students unfamiliar with the online environment into the expectations. Later assignments will be worth more, and cumulative.

Assessment 3: Students analyse and revise their understanding of what culture is Criteria:

Refer to the first explanation of what culture is. Revise your explanation, including reasons for the changes. Refer to any of the forum discussions and your own thoughts.

Assessment:      Student articulates a deeper understanding of the complexity of culture.

Criteria: Compare what you know now to what you wrote in the first task. Include specific details of your knowledge or attitude that has shifted. Refer to the forum discussions and other ways you may have adjusted your understanding of culture (e.g. conversations with friends/family, further reading, reflecting on a previous experience etc.) 10 marks

Rationale: Students need to see what the connection is to the first task which is not graded. “One question asked frequently by students in relation to on-line assessment is, beyond flexibility, ‘What is the point?’ Where assessment tasks appear to add little or nothing to student learning, or worse, to hinder student learning, this is a reasonable question” (center for the study of higher education) . By grading the student submissions, students will be able to apply understanding of quality and standards from the second assessment.

Rationale for assessment

The strategy for assessment is based on a model known as KWL: What do I know (baseline question), what do I want to know (forum discussion), what have I learned (analysis of learning). As intercultural communication learning is a process (Bennett), and this is the beginning of the course where multiple generations and cultures are interacting, I feel it is important to begin with formative assessment in order to diminish competition with others because there will be times in the class that involve potentially uncomfortable topics/discussions. It’s important to scaffold and provide multiple opportunities for students to assess their learning and” involve [students] in self-assessment of their work, at least in part” (RE).  This assessment does not grade communication skills per se. It formatively assesses students’ metacognition and critical thinking, so completion of a task and an ability to articulate what is going on for the student is the focus of the lesson and the evaluation. This is a baseline for me to get to know how students manage the group and individual tasks as well as provide a foundational topic that we will revisit throughout the course.

**Students only lose marks if they are off topic, don’t complete or are inappropriate online (these agreements/understandings would be known prior to the lesson)

**My involvement in the forum would be to acknowledge an effective question/statement and to paraphrase/clarify where I sense a miscommunication.



Better RE. Baseline Assessment: principles and methods

Center for the study of higher education. Assessing student learning- five practical guides retrieved from


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