WORKSHOP REPORT: How to do Assessment and Evaluation in Media Literacy
A Professional Development Seminar with Chris Worsnop
By Lisa Tripp
On Saturday, March 18, Chris Worsnop – one of Canada's foremost media literacy teachers, authors and leaders – led an invigorating professional development seminar in Los Angeles about one of the most important issues in media literacy – how teachers can fairly assess student work in film, video, audio and other formats from popular culture.
Sponsored by the Felton Media Literacy Scholars Program at the Center for Media Literacy, the day's events included video presentations, discussions, and role-playing activities to help make theory come alive. With both humor and rigor, Chris covered key concepts in media literacy, active learning activities for the classroom, assessing students' media work, and handling sensitive issues in the media-like violence, sex, bad language, and other "isms."
Co-sponsors for the event included the Canadian Consulate General of Los Angeles and Unite-L.A., a public/private collaboration of LAUSD, LACCD and over 50 area corporations supporting lifelong learning.
Participants came from throughout Southern California to enjoy and learn from Chris' expertise — and from each other. The diverse group included teachers, educators, graduate students, and media professionals. According to high school teacher Cris Gutierrez, the day's event enabled "healthy and vigorous conversation and inquiry." But the seminar was also useful to educators looking for practical ideas for the classroom. Sister Mary Ann Lenore Eifert, BVM, teacher at Holy Family School in Glendale, called the day "so comprehensive, informative, and expanding, every moment can be used in my eighth grade class."
And who better to learn from than from a man who has over 30 years' experience teaching students of all ages, and their teachers, about the media? His first book, Screening Images: Ideas for Media Education, offers teachers a clear, thoughtful discussion of media education theory, with an extensive section on classroom activities. Some call it the "hip pocket guide" to media literacy.
Assessment in Media Education
The highlight of the day was Chris' presentation of issues surrounding assessment in media education. Chris has a strong background in assessment and has worked on a number of large-scale projects in Canada to develop tools for assessing student writing and to adapt courses to performance-based principles and holistic assessment.
More recently, he has used this expertise to address the issue of assessing students' media work and to develop practical assessment tools and resources for teachers to use. His new book, Assessing Media Work: Authentic Assessment in Media Education, offers plain language explanations and illustrations of important assessment issues as well as detailed rubrics and other tools for assessing student work in film, video, audio, and other formats from popular culture.
So, why is assessment so important in media education? According to Chris:
Chris emphasized that to really achieve these kinds of benefits, however, you need tools that actually assess the same things the curriculum is trying to emphasize and that support good classroom practice. And with media work being so varied, how do you develop a consistent and appropriate set of criteria or expectations for assessment.
Don't worry, you don't need to — Chris has already done it! His Assessing Media Work: Authentic Assessment in Media Education, really is an invaluable resource.
As a featured part of the seminar, Chris shared some of the detailed rubrics and other tools which he has developed. These include specific traits that teachers can look for in different components of student work:
The criteria are then scaled into five levels of performance:
Participants got a chance to practice applying these tools to assess samples of student media work — a process which sparked lively discussion and helped give teachers a practical sense of how useful assessment tools can be. It's not as easy as it looks! One participant explained her enthusiasm: "I am looking forward to using this rubric in my video production classes. I think it will help my students better understand some of the key elements of doing quality work and know what's expected of them. And it will help me in assessing and reporting the details of what they have actually achieved."
By the end of the day, however, it was clear that one of the best things to come from the event was a growing sense of community, dialogue, and collaboration between diverse advocates and educators of media literacy in Southern California – and a sense of excitement for the work and learning yet to come.
A variety of upcoming events sponsored by the Felton program will be giving more opportunities for people interested in media literacy to build on this important work. Check out the Center for Media Literacy's ongoing series of professional development workshops and seminars on teaching about media.