As theatre education directors increase their use of multiple assessment models, many results are emerging! For example, 90% of students in Class X are passing assessment Y. But what does that really tell them? If the answer is ‘not much,’ than more data analysis is needed. One mistake to avoid is to assume that the results of one assessment tell a theatre education director or a theatre teacher all they need to know about the student, their class, their audience feedback session or their entire educational programming. It is important to design several assessments that allow students or audience members to demonstrate their learning and understanding of what is being taught, seen or experienced in a variety of ways. The big picture is that all educators want students to make steady progress towards a goal or a standard.
Setting goals and standards help teachers compare student assessment results to reliable benchmarks of excellence. Setting goals for student learning, such as memorize a role, understand the meaning of a play or write a scene is a good place to start. Linking teaching goals to national theatre standards is more rigorous.
- Script writing by improvising, writing and refining scripts based on personal experience and heritage, imagination, literature and history.
- Acting by developing, communicating and sustaining characters in improvisations and informal or formal productions.
- Designing and producing by conceptualizing and realizing artistic interpretations for informal or formal productions.
Starting with analysis of student assessment results by comparing the results to a goal or a standard that was set for the student before the learning experience is critical to the rigor of the analysis. Students need to understand how their work will be compared and judged. Once the standard is set, the results will then generate questions such as, “How many students took which assessments? How well did they do at each assessment point? Did students perform better on some types of assessments (e.g., surveys) than on other types of assessments (e.g., portfolios)? How many students met or exceeded the standards set for this work?” As teachers collect the results, quantitative numbers and qualitative student writing will emerge.
Quantitative and Qualitative Results
Each of the four types of assessment categories developed for TCG theatres, i.e., observations, performance tasks, portfolios and surveys, yield results that can be organized as a set of numbers (quantitative results) and as a set of learning statements (qualitative results). Quantitative results can be effective for reporting participation rates, numbers of students who achieve a certain level of standard or comparison of students from different schools or groups. Qualitative results can be effective for reporting the “how and why of student learning” through the writing of students, the notes teachers take and the meaning that both make from what they are learning.