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Assessment through problematized situations

Published 5 months ago by Ann Baker

The following problematized situation is taken from our online course, Problematized Situations.

A comment from one of the course participants brought this problem to my attention again, so I thought: “I’ll share it here and expand on it as a formative or summative assessment tool.”


First let's look at the potential of this as a formative assessment task.

Assume that addition and subtraction are part of your learning intention.

What understandings or strategies might you expect to see or hear?



If you use this problematized situation as a formative task, you will see what students can do and do know before you begin to plan your learning intentions.

But the problem need not stop there! Crank it up!


No worksheet means no limits on what the students can show you. Challenge them to show off.

Now you can collect data (formative or summative) in ways that involve the students in identifying their own success criteria within the scope of the mathematical content you have been teaching.

An activity such as this is readily differentiated across a class either by the teacher or by the student’s choice of strategy, representation and range of numbers.

It’s a lot more thought provoking and interesting than a worksheet.

PS ... A friend of mine has written about not using worksheets on her Student Voice blog - check it out here.

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