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Designing Standards-Aligned Formative Assessments to Explore Middle School Students' Understanding of Algorithms

Fri, April 14, 2:50 to 4:20pm CDT (2:50 to 4:20pm CDT), Hyatt Regency Chicago, Floor: West Tower - Ballroom Level, Atlanta


'Algorithms’ is a core CS concept included in the K-12 CS learning standards, yet student challenges with understanding and using algorithms are still not well documented. This paper describes an approach to decompose the broad middle-school ‘algorithms’ standard into finer grained learning targets, develop formative assessment tasks aligned with the fine-grained learning targets, and use the tasks to explore student understanding of and challenges with the various concepts underlying the standard. We describe a number of student challenges revealed by our analysis of student responses to a set of standards-aligned formative assessment tasks. Our study underscores the importance of carefully designing formative assessment tasks to capture students’ understanding of, and challenges with grade-appropriate algorithm concepts.