There is an indefinable magic that comes from children who learn while playing. It’s substantial, it’s well-rounded and it’s hard to capture- but we’re trying anyway!
Goal Specific Outcomes
At Play-Well Outreach, our programs are designed to build life-long learners with a passion for science, engineering, and how things work. We focus on three goals that are essential to this process.
- Increasing a student's knowledge of STEM concepts
- Increasing a student's ability to generalize information from a class project to real world situations and scenarios.
- Increasing a student's positive sentiments towards math and science
Spotlight: University of Chigago Charter Schools Partnership
In the fall of 2015, Play-Well Outreach partnered with University of Chicago Charter Schools to offer weekly enrichment courses to multiple classes. This assessment data reflects the student's overall growth after our classes.
Goal 1: Stem Concepts
Our assessments measured three goals. The first was a student's knowledge of STEM terms or concepts. For example, the definition of gravity or friction, or that when two gears interlock their teeth its called meshing.
Goal 2: Ability to Generalize
The second of the three goals measured in our assessment is a student's ability to generalize information from class project to real world situations and scenarios. For example can the student recognize that the same overlapping technique used in building their LEGO castle is also used in the brick walls of their school?
Spotlight: Sample Question Assessing Goal 2
Goal 3: Increase Positive Sentiment
The final of the three goals measured in our assessment concerns a student's feelings about math and science. Specifically, did our program increase their positive feelings about the subjects? These questions can be as specific as "does math make you feel nervous?" or as broad as "did you know that race car drivers have to know a lot of science?"
We have developed an assessment method that protects the integrity of our programming. Our classes are fun and we aren’t willing to sacrifice that- How do we test without testing?
- Keep it short and colorful: Our 1-page assessment worksheets are bright and colorful and only take around 10 minutes to complete. That represents only a small percent of our 90-minute or 3 -hour programs.
- Keep it calm: Because children as young as elementary school experience test anxiety, assessment worksheets are never referred to as ‘tests’ or ‘quizzes.’ Students are told and reminded that their performance on this worksheet does not affect their grades and that we simply use them to help us understand how best to teach and play with them.
- Keep it simple: We bring everything they need! We provide an assessment, the pens, the directions and the time. We’re not bound by the stricter rules that apply to state or national, high-stakes testing, so if a student has a hard time understanding a question, we explain it. If reading comprehension is a concern, we read the questions aloud for the whole class.
- Trust our students: Kids know what is fun for them. They know what they want to create and they are natural learners. We ask them what they like and take that into account when teaching. Our assessments ask questions about how they feel about the building process specifically and more broadly about math and science.
- Trust our teachers: As an organization that encourages instructor autonomy in the classroom, we have to be cognizant of the role that evaluation and assessment can have if not done thoughtfully. All assessments are created after the instructor makes their curriculum and communicates both the projects and the concepts they plan on covering. Each class receives a different assessment worksheet as they are tailored to the individual learning experience that the instructor is creating.