Using Question Generation as an Assessment
By: Sally Del Llano
Question generation is an ongoing skill for our students. In order for students to access the most essential components of our curricula, we must guide students through the process of asking the “right” (or most effective) questions. My US History co-teacher and I decided earlier in the year we wanted to build an assessment for our students that would utilize the Keys to Literacy Question Generation technique.
At the end of our unit on Westward Expansion, we assembled students into groups of four and provided each group with a Bloom’s Questioning cue word “cheat sheet.” Each group’s task was to generate between two to four questions for each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy addressing the material for the unit. Students were not expected to answer these questions; simply generate them. We framed the activity by asking students to create questions they feel would be relevant to include on a test about Westward Expansion. We displayed six big pieces of chart paper, one labeled each Bloom’s level, around the classroom. Students were instructed to write their questions on sticky notes, then post them on corresponding chart paper. To ensure quality and relevance, teachers surveyed and edited questions as students were generating questions. Students then used their iPads to take pictures of each of chart, which became their study guides to prepare of the exam.
Ultimately, my co-teacher and I chose which questions would be added to the exam. We decided on five Remembering (most took the form of multiple choice), five Understanding, two Analyzing, and two Creating. In order to make the exam manageable for students, we decided to omit the Applying and Evaluating question sections. Using question generation as a test format was a success with our students and we will implement it again during a different unit. The greatest benefits to using this approach were helping students delve deeper into the content by practicing question generation, giving them a sense of ownership over the exam, and eliminating test anxiety through adequate preparation.