Too Anxious to Test: Exploring Student Knowledge in Creative Social Environments

Session Focus and Relevance:
The goal of this workshop is to provide teachers with an understanding of how to utilize social media by way of using it to implement a creative knowledge assessment. Testing anxiety is a familiar experience for many teachers, specifically in its effects on student grades and motivation (Kurbanoglu, Zor, & Yüce, 2019). Alternative forms of assessment, particularly those that allow a verbal component, reduce anxiety level and provide deeper insights into student understanding (Iannone & Simpson, 2015). Allowing students to work in a familiar environment that lends itself to creative expression follows appropriate practice in learner-centered assessment (Paris, 1998). Furthermore, engaging in aesthetic experiences causes students to reflect on the meaning they create (Stinson, 1985). By providing learning experiences that require students to create a product of their understanding, teachers can encourage motivation and better assess students’ understanding and misconceptions.
Time will be taken to consider the unique variables that may arise from an unintended home learning environment (due to COVID19). Potential variables include: anxiety disorders, parental attitudes, time devoted to learning, accessibility, socioeconomic status, and time devoted to preparing technology-based assignments. Such variables may impact the learning experience of creativity-based assignments. It is important to identify and be aware of these variables when planning activities such as the one proposed. Strategies for identifying and planning will be discussed.

Session Audience:
Secondary and post-secondary science instructors
Presenter Expertise:
Cherilyn Porter is a 4th-year PhD student in Curriculum and Instruction for science education. She has both a Bachelors and Masters of Science in Biology. She currently teaches High School Level, Pre-AP, and AP Chemistry. Her professional interests are in the nature of science, scientific literacy, curriculum writing, and home/accessible education. She has previously led workshops on gamification of assessment and the use of metaphor in instruction and assessment.
Monica Hernandez Valencia is a 4th-year PhD student at Texas A&M University in Curriculum and Instruction. She has taught high school biology, science for grades 3-5, and a middle school extracurricular science enrichment program. Miss Valencia currently teaches biology,physiology, and anatomy full-time at a large two-year college in Houston. Her research interests include science education and its intersection with virtual environments.

Learning Objectives and Assessment:
Effectively use apps such as TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram as assessment tools
Participants will be able to understand the limitations and opportunities afforded by being creative using various social media
Understanding the use of technology within appropriate Nature of Science context
Participants will be able to determine appropriate times to utilize social media for assignments
Design scaffolded prompts to ensure student knowledge and misconceptions are explored
Participants will be able to construct clear and comprehensive assignments

Research Alignment
Testing anxiety negatively impacts student learning and persistence in science.
Learner-centered assessments increase student motivation and engagement.
Allowing students to verbally express understanding reduces their anxiety.
Engaging in aesthetic experiences to produce art inevitably causes students to reflect on meaning and sense-making.