Looking Past the Grade: Emphasizing Feedback in String Assessment

Looking Past the Grade: Emphasizing Feedback in String Assessment

Presented at American String Teachers Association National Conference

Orlando, FL, March, 2020

by Tim Nowak, East Carolina University and Scott Glasser, Arizona State University

Too often, students look straight to the number in the lower right corner (or, in musical ensembles, to the resultant chair placement they’ve earned based on that number).  This session focused on emphasizing quality of feedback while operating in a larger graded culture.

Purpose of Assessment
  • Meet mandates
  • Documentation for grades
  • Improve Individual Musicianship and Understanding
  • Improve Instruction

Students may be resistant to a more ‘feedback oriented’ assessment.  To institute change, the presenters suggested telling them “I want you to trust me.  We’re going to try something different.”  The district music team created common formative assessments and a rubric.  It’s important students see the rubric before taking the assessment.

One strategy the presenters adapted from their ELA colleagues was the “rough draft/final draft procedure.  Kids submit  a recording of a playing test.  The teacher grades the rough draft with written comments.  Student gets 10/10 points just for turning it in on time.  4-5 days later, the final draft is due.  It’s worth 100 points, based on the rubric.  Between the rough draft and the final draft, the student is able to use the teacher’s feedback, personally review the recording and self-assess. Kids became more engaged. The presenter also incorporated a reflection phase after it was done.

Flipgrid or SeeSaw may be useful platforms.

I look forward to implementing this in my classroom.  I would like to work with the middle school orchestra team to create common formative assessments over core skills.  I would continue to have some traditional ‘playing quizzes’ over our performance music, but would have these new type of assessments that incorporate the rough drafts for core technique.

Presentation packet

Rubric Sample


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