Assessing disciplinary thinking 101

By now you’ve been asking students to think like disciplinarians for quite some time. You’ve modeled for them with a think aloud. You’ve asked them to coach each other using discipline specific questions. You’ve designed activities and discussions to help them learn to behave like experts in your field.

How can you assess if they’ve “got it”?

Here are a few easy steps to follow:

1) Define the disciplinary thinking target. What do experts in your field do? How do they think?

thinking like a historian copy

2) Give students something to think about. It might be a text or a word problem or a graph. It must be new to them.

thinking like a historian source copy

3) Ask questions to gage students’ ability to think like an expert. 

  • Why do you think this source was created? Why might it be useful evidence for a historian studying slave women?
  • What are the limits of this source? What can it not tell us? What uncertainties do you have about the document?
  • Based on this evidence, what inferences can you make about the challenges faced by slave women?

4) Write model answers to your own questions.

5) Measure student work against your model. 

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Categories: Stage 4: Disciplinary Thinking, Testing and Assessments

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