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Anthony Rodesney (Spring 2016)

TWS - Analysis of Student Learning


Students completed a survey prior to beginning a unit about earthquakes. This unit
immediately follows units about plate tectonics and volcanoes. Many of the ideas carry over
from one unit to the next and many students have heard about earthquakes from outside sources
or from prior science classes, so I was expecting many students to come into this unit with a
basic understanding of earthquakes. This was the case for basic knowledge. Many students were
able to describe the relationship between plate tectonics and earthquakes before we began the
unit. The other learning goals were specific to earthquakes and students showed a limited
knowledge prior to the unit. The results for the post-unit survey were not great but are useful.
Whole Class
When looking at all of the student data (Table 1), it can be seen that gains were made on
all learning goals. The largest gain was made on the Goal 2. Before the unit only 6% of students
could describe/model the forces in Earths crust that cause earthquakes and the landforms that
result compared to 75% of students after the unit. An additional 23% answered partially correct
on the post-unit survey. These students either listed the forces or the landforms, but not both. The
same pattern was seen for the rest of the goals. Most students either showed complete or partial
understanding, which in most cases means that students either completely or incompletely
answered the question. The post-unit survey being given after a two-day 7th grade science test
covering plate tectonics, volcanoes, and earthquakes and the right before Spring Break may have
influence their dedication to the task. Some of the questions may have been too broad and left
students wondering exactly what the questions were asking for.
Except for Goal 1, the number of students with a good understanding more than doubled
from before the unit to after. In the case of Goals 4 and 5 students progress was very high, but

Anthony Rodesney (Spring 2016)


left many students uncertain about how to use triangulation to map an earthquake. These goals
were totally new to students and may not have been totally realistic given the time constraints for
the unit. I was still surprised that the numbers were so low. I would have expected a success rate
closer to 85-90% for every goal. This surprise comes from the conversations and other
assessment that the students completed throughout the unit, which left me very confident about
their understanding. For examples, when students were tasked with actually find an earthquakes
epicenter using three seismograms the data looked much better. Class averages were in the 8590% range after removing 0s for students who did not turn in their work.
Many of the misconceptions that were present before the unit are mostly gone. Only a
couple students mentioned SONAR as a means to locate an earthquake, and only a few students
remained unsure of when to use the phrases plate tectonics and tectonic plates.
Assignments and Grading
My gradebook is divided into four categories of different weights, and individual
assignments are given a point value before being added to one of the four categories. The
categories and their percentages are Classwork/Homework (20%), Labs/Quizzes (35%),
Tests/Projects (35%), and Notebook/Portfolio (10%). I took four grades during the course of this
unit. The Play-Doh Activity was a 10-point assignment added to the Homework/Classwork
category and graded for completion. Most assignments of this nature are worth 10-20 points and
are mostly based on completion since students are new to the information. This was the
exploration activity that introduced the forces in Earths crust and the different type of faults. I
was simply looking to see that students had made observation and were beginning to make
connections between the forces and resulting movements and landforms. Most students did well
on this assignment. A few did not complete it or did not turn it in. The second assignment was a

Anthony Rodesney (Spring 2016)


short quiz that asked students to match the different forces in Earths crust to the movement of
the hanging wall and footwall of the different types of faults that the forces create. The quiz was
worth 10 points and added to the Quiz/Lab category. Most quizzes and labs are also 10-20 points
and graded for accuracy. At this point in the unit students have received feedback on their PlayDoh lab and had a chance to discuss it with their classmates and myself. Class average on the
quiz ranged from 86-95%. 73% of students earned an A, 11% B, 7% C, 5% D, and 3% F. The
third grade was a classwork grade where students practiced finding the epicenter and magnitude
of an earthquake using seismograms. Students were given some written directions and limited
instructions so they would have to use the clues available to them to figure out how to solve the
problem. This again was worth 10 points and based on completion. Scaffolding was provided for
students who reached dead-ends and had already consulted the directions and their tablemates.
Most students were able to figure out how to complete the two tasks either on their own or with
help from their tablemates. I did notice that this group of students as a whole was less
enthusiastic about this task than groups from prior years. This group does not enjoy high-level
problem solving to the same degree as prior years. They are much happier when things are given
to them. The fourth and final grade taken for this unit was a lab where students had to use what
they learned from the prior classwork to find the epicenter and magnitude of a different
earthquake. The lab was worth 10 points and graded in two parts. Five points were tied to
mapping the location of the earthquakes epicenter on a map and the other five depended on the
students finding the earthquakes magnitude. I was looking to see that students placed the
epicenter no more than one centimeter from its actual location and they calculated the magnitude
correctly +/- .2 points. 28% of students did this perfectly. To do this students had to determine at
what time the P-waves and S-waves arrives at three different locations, find the time difference

Anthony Rodesney (Spring 2016)


between them, use this time on a Travel-Time chart to determine the distance from each location
to the epicenter, and then draw circles of the correct radius around each city to see where they all
met. Another 29% lost only one point. Most of these were for making sloppy circles and placing
the epicenter too far from its actual location. Some students did not use the compasses provided
them. 5% earned an 80%. 16% lost three points for not showing their work when calculating the
earthquakes magnitude or making a large mistake when locating the epicenter. 10% lost four
points for a combination of not showing work and incorrectly mapping the epicenter. 13% of
students did not turn in their lab.

Gifted Underachievers
There is a misconception among regular education teachers that all gifted students are
high achievers (Myths About Gifted Students, 2016). The reality is that some gifted students are
underachievers because of a lack of interest or skills necessary to be successful. These students
have a large gap between their ability and their performance. I see this often in 7th grade, which is
the first year of middle school in Clay County. Some gifted students breezed through elementary
school only to struggle when the rigor and expectation are ramped up in middle school. The
study skills and task commitment that many other students had to learn in elementary school
have not made it into their toolbox. Other underachievers are simply not interested in the content
and are keen enough know that not doing well for a time and doing well before or after will
result in an overall passing grade. I have seven gifted students that I would classify as
underachieving. Of these seven, two have Bs, four have Cs, and one currently has an F. The
data for these students is represented in Table 2 and Graphs 4-6 below.

Anthony Rodesney (Spring 2016)


By the end of the unit all of these students had at least a partial understanding of every
learning goal, which is better than all of my students as a whole. The least understood goals
involved how to map an unknown epicenter and the tools and skills needed to map an
earthquakes epicenter. This is similar to the data for the whole class. These students performed
on par with the first three assignments, but dropped off significantly when the Earthquake
Mapping Lab came around. Only one student earned a 90%. Two earned 70%, one 60% and
three did not turn it in. This is one struggle that these students face. If a task is not completed at
school it does not get turned it. These students are also very independent and more introverted
and less likely to ask others for help. The data suggests that these students understand the
material, but struggle completing the tasks that are set out for them.
Individuals
Two students that I have chosen are KB and RH. KB is a gifted young lady. I would
describe her as an ideal student and is always at the top of her class. She rarely misses school,
and when she does she brings her make-up work in when she returns. She never complains or
hesitates to ask questions when she does not understand something. Shell always try something
before asking for help and can sometimes be a bit of a perfectionist. She is well liked by her
classmates. RH is a young man in one of my advanced class and has made a ton of improvement
this year. He has become more responsible with his time and appears to have taken control of his
education, which he was not doing at the beginning of the year. RH tries to get assignments done
as quickly as possible. He sometimes does not read directions and makes silly errors, which is a
behavior that has decreased throughout the year.
KB completed every assignment perfectly throughout the unit. She even helped me betatest the Earthquake Mapping Lab when she finished her other assignments early. She pointed out

Anthony Rodesney (Spring 2016)


how the lab could be more easily understood by making the directions more clear when it came
to using the Travel-Time chart. KB is able to quickly understand and integrate new information
into her existing knowledge and problem solve very well. Because of these attributes I tend to
use KB as indicator. If she can easily figure our where a lesson is going or how to complete a
task, then I know that everything is there for other students to figure things out as well even if it
might take them a little more time and effort.
RH completed both of the classwork assignments and scored an 80% on the Forces in
Earths Crust Quiz and a 50% on the Earthquake Mapping Lab. On the quiz he mixed up the
terms normal fault and reverse fault and how the hanging and footwall move in a normal
fault. On the post-unit survey he was able to list the different stresses in Earths crust, but did not
list any features formed by the stresses. He could do neither before the unit. He also scored a
90% on the two-day test that covered plate tectonics, volcanoes, and earthquakes, which was not
a part of this series of assignments, but I think is relevant to his overall understanding of those
topics. The 50% on the Mapping Lab came from a miscalculation on the scaled distances, the
absence of finding and marking the epicenter of the earthquake, and not graphing all of the
magnitude data. I know that he knew how to complete these tasks because they are the same
tasks that were completed in the practice mapping classwork. This is a case similar to my gifted
underachievers where their ability does not match their performance. Looking only at the grades
of this student does not show the whole picture. The post-unit data from RH shows that he has
made great gains from the beginning of the unit. He showed a better understanding on all
learning goals except for learning goal #1, which remained about the same.
Both of these students show increased understanding of the learning goals. One is a high
achieving motivated student while the other is a recovering underachiever. Seeing that both of

Anthony Rodesney (Spring 2016)


these students made large gains from the pre- to post-unit survey was very nice to see and
showed that grades do not fully represent a students understanding. Of course a students grade
do not always show their understanding. It could also be the case that students do well on
classwork and other assessments, but do not really understand the root of the concepts.

Anthony Rodesney (Spring 2016)

Table 1: Pre/Post-Unit Data (All Students)

Learning Goal

1.

2.

3.

3.

4.

1.

2.

Describe the relationship


between plate tectonics
and earthquakes using the
location of recent and
historical earthquakes as
evidence.
Model the different
stresses in Earths crust
and the landforms these
stresses create.
Explain the causes of
earthquakes as they relate
to Earths
structure/surface and
Earths biosphere.
Explain the effects of
earthquakes as they relate
to Earths
structure/surface and
Earths biosphere.

Percent of
Students
with the
Correct
Idea
(After)

Percent of
Students
with a
Partially
Correct Idea
(After)

Percent of
Students
with an
Incorrect
Idea
(After)

Percent of
Students who
Dont Know
or Left the Box
Blank
(After)

46
(69)

48
(31)

5
(0)

1
(0)

6
(75)

18
(23)

58
(2)

18
(0)

25
(72)

60
(28)

12
(0)

3
(0)

29
(63)

50
(30)

14
(7)

7
(0)

Determine the location of


an unknown earthquake
using seismograms from
multiple seismic stations.

3
(42)

36
(50)

41
(8)

20
(0)

Determine the magnitude


of an unknown
earthquake using
seismograms from
multiple seismic stations.

5
(58)

33
(40)

30
(2)

32
(0)

Properly read a map and


use triangulation to plot
an unknown location on a
map.

Common
Misconceptions Prior to
the Unit

0
(28)

27
(56)

35
(18)

38
(0)

The phrases plate


tectonics is often
used in place of
tectonic plates.
Earthquakes
commonly cause
volcanoes to erupt.

Oceans cause
earthquake.

Some students were


thrown off by the
use of the word
seismologists.

Earthquakes are a
common cause of
volcanism.

Many students
listed sonar or radar
as a way to
determine where an
earthquake
occurred. Some
students were not
familiar with the
word magnitude.

Sonar was again


mentioned.

Many students
listed sound waves
as being needed to
find the location of
an earthquake.

Anthony Rodesney (Spring 2016)

Graph 1: Pre/Post Correct Understanding

Correct Understanding (Whole Class)


80
60
Percent of Students

75

69

72

63

58

46

42

40

25

20

29

28
3

4.0

4.0

0
1.0

2.0

3.0

3.0

Before
After

0
5.0

Learning Goals

Graph 2: Pre/Post Partially Correct Understanding

Partially Correct Understanding (Whole Class)


80
60
Percent of Students

60
48

40

31

20

23
18

28

50
30

50
36

56
40
33

27

Before
After

0
1.0

2.0

3.0

3.0

4.0

4.0

5.0

Learning Goals

Graph 3: Pre/Post Incorrect Understanding

Incorrect Understanding (Whole Class)


80
58

60
Percent of Students

41

40
20
0

5
0
1.0

2
2.0

12
0
3.0

14

3.0

4.0

Learning Goals

35

30

18
2
4.0

5.0

Before
After

Anthony Rodesney (Spring 2016)

Table 2: Underachieving Student Pre/Post Unit Data

Learning Goal

1.

2.

3.

3.

4.

4.

Describe the relationship


between plate tectonics
and earthquakes using
the location of recent and
historical earthquakes as
evidence.
Model the different
stresses in Earths crust
and the landforms these
stresses create.
Explain the causes of
earthquakes as they
relate to Earths
structure/surface and
Earths biosphere.
Explain the effects of
earthquakes as they
relate to Earths
structure/surface and
Earths biosphere.

Number of
Students
with the
Correct
Idea
(After)

Number of
Students
with a
Partially
Correct Idea
(After)

Number of
Students
with an
Incorrect
Idea
(After)

Number of
Students who
Dont Know
or Left the
Box Blank
(After)

Common
Misconceptions

The phrases
plate tectonics is often
used in place of tectonic
plates.

Earthquakes
commonly cause
volcanoes to erupt.

1
(4)

6
(3)

0
(0)

0
(0)

0
(5)

1
(2)

2
(0)

4
(0)

0
(6)

6
(1)

1
(0)

0
(0)

2
(4)

2
(3)

2
(0)

1
(0)

Determine the location of


an unknown earthquake
using seismograms from
multiple seismic stations.

0
(2)

3
(5)

1
(0)

3
(0)

Determine the magnitude


of an unknown
earthquake using
seismograms from
multiple seismic stations.

0
(6)

3
(1)

1
(0)

3
(0)

5. Properly read a map and


use triangulation to plot an
unknown location on a map.

0
(1)

2
(6)

3
(0)

2
(0)

Oceans cause
earthquake.

Some students
were thrown off by the
use of the word
seismologists.

Earthquakes are a
common cause of
volcanism.

Many students
listed sonar or radar as a
way to determine where
an earthquake occurred.
Some students were not
familiar with the word
magnitude.

Sonar was again


mentioned.

Many students
listed sound waves as
being needed to find the
location of an
earthquake.

Anthony Rodesney (Spring 2016)

Graph 4: Underachiever Understanding

Correct Understanding (Underachievers)


8
6
Number of Students

4
2

6
4

Before

0
1.0

0
2.0

0
3.0

3.0

0
4.0

1
0
4.0

After

0
5.0

Learning Goals

Graph 5: Underachiever Partial Understanding

Partial Understanding (Underachievers)


8
6
Number of Students

6
3

Before

3
1

After

0
1.0

2.0

3.0

3.0

4.0

4.0

5.0

Learning Goals

Graph 6: Underachiever Incorrect Understanding

Incorrect Understanding (Underachievers)


4

3
Number of Students

1
0

0
0
1.0

0
2.0

0
3.0

0
3.0

Before
1

0
4.0

0
4.0

Learning Goals

After

0
5.0

Anthony Rodesney (Spring 2016)

References:
Myths About Gifted Students. (2016). Retrieved March 16, 2016, from
https://www.nagc.org/resources-publications/resources/myths-about-gifted-students