Primary Computing Assessment

Assessing Primary Computing

Assessment presents particular challenges for computing and many schools have not yet addressed how to accurately assess pupil progress and provide evidence of it.  Let’s see what David Brown, HMI Ofsted’s National Lead for Computing, has to say about computing in schools.

Mr Brown’s message is overwhelmingly that of outcomes with no specific advice about how to achieve them.  Having taught Computing in primary schools since 2013, I have found that the time required to cover the programmes of study for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 is one hour of computing each week for Years 1-6, coupled with cross-curricular work to practise and consolidate skills in other subjects.

Assessment can be particularly daunting for teachers of computing as traditional methods of marking and feedback are a challenge given its digital nature. A range of assessment strategies are therefore necessary, with discussion and questioning being key.  To support evidence of progression, I use a variety of methods and tools.  I maintain an e-Portfolio for each of my pupils on the school network where they store digital work using version numbering and dating, this allows me (and anyone else) to track the progress they have made more easily.  I also update iCompute’s pupil progress trackers (forming part of our assessment toolkit) after each unit of work.  Feedback is face-to-face, in writing for worksheet activities and by video or online where appropriate in the form of commenting.  Examples of this are with Scratch where I insert comments next to the children’s blocks of code and in Microsoft Kodu where I edit the project descriptions to provide feedback and suggest next steps.

Self and peer assessment is hugely beneficial to pupils providing an opportunity to reflect on work, learn from mistakes and evaluate for improvement.   Recording audio can be particularly good for these forms of assessment where projects can be described in detail in terms of their design, functionality, problem solving and potential future improvements as they are being developed and/or used.   The audio can be embedded within the project and ‘hidden’ so as not to interfere or distract from the core project by programming playback to happen on a given key stroke or button press which is commented in to the code – see screenshot.

computing assessment

Record audio or video screencasts for self-assessment in computing

Potentially one of the most powerful tools for assessment in computing is engaging our modern digital citizens in creating screencasts –  combining images, audio and text into video.

Research indicates that by making learning visual and documenting thinking through screencasting pupils more naturally engage in self-assessment.

Even when recordings are made without any intended audience and in the absence of any prompting, pupils automatically listen back to themselves, reflect, assess and adjust.

This promising tool could be used to further develop IT and digital literacy skills whilst also engaging pupils in the assessment process by editing screencasts for an intended audience with audio and creating visual effects such as captioning.  They could then be uploaded to individual or class blogs, using categories and tags mapped to the appropriate strand of the National Curriculum for Computing, as evidence of learning or saved as a video file for storage on file servers either at school or in the Cloud.  Similarly, teachers could use screencasts to provide audio/visual pupil feedback by recording when reviewing work.  The screencasts could be cross-referenced against a project and uploaded into the pupil’s e-Portfolio.  Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is the best free screencasting software currently available.

Whilst evidence of progression and attainment can be more of a challenge for computing than for some other subjects, addressing how it can be achieved presents an excellent opportunity to rethink how we assess our pupils.  We teachers can use what we learn about assessing children’s learning in technology to move our assessment strategies forward and fully embrace the advantages assessing with technology offer.

Find out more about iCompute’s comprehensive primary computing assessment toolkit.

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Computing and SEN

Computing – Including Pupils with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEN/D)

iCompute Inclusion for SENWe passionately believe that Computing has the potential to empower pupils with SEN/D and transform their lives. With the right blend of progressive, imaginative planning, exposure to a broad range of tools and technologies, and comprehensive support it is possible that all children can be fully included and fulfill their potential – in computing and throughout the curriculum.

Computing and Information Technology are essential tools for inclusion.  They enable children with SEN/D, whatever their needs, to use technology purposefully in ways that make the curriculum accessible and fully include everyone in activities and learning.

iCompute offers children with SEN/D varied and engaging ways to communicate, collaborate, express ideas and demonstrate success.  From making and editing video/audio footage, programming animations, games and apps to creating rich web content – all pupils have an opportunity to participate, be challenged, learn and progress.

iCompute supports children with SEN/D by providing:

  • Familiarity – Lessons follow similar patterns and all involve aspects that appeal to various learning styles and include ‘unplugged’ activities to support children’s understanding of abstract concepts
  • Progression – Structured, termly/yearly, progressive units of work providing full coverage of the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2
  • Flexibility – All units have Core, Easier, Harder activities as well as a number of Extension/Enrichment/Homework ideas allowing teachers to cater for the individual needs of their pupils
  • Resources – Colourful pupil support materials; engaging worksheets; video screencasts; imaginative unplugged activities and interactive online activities support pupils learning enabling them to achieve
  • Assessment – Comprehensive end of unit assessment guidance supported by detailed pupil progress tracker spreadsheets matched to CAS (Computing At Schools) Progression Pathways enable teachers to accurately assess progress and set targets. If appropriate, end of unit assessment guidance and/or year group progress spreadsheets can be tracked back to find more suitable performance descriptors from earlier year groups. In addition, for those children working below levels expected of their age, iCompute offers a progress tracker with descriptors in line with P-Scales
  • Rich variety of software and tools – A wealth of free software and online tools allow SEN/D pupils to demonstrate skills and progress, express ideas, improve digital literacy and boost self-confidence