Kris Gutierrez & Bill Penuel - Assessing Connected Learning Outcomes

In a connected learning environment, what does "success" look like and how can you measure it?

About The Speaker(s)

Kris D. Gutiérrez is Professor of Literacy and Learning Sciences and holds the Inaugural Provost’s Chair at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research examines learning in designed learning environments, with particular attention to students from non-dominant communities and English Learners. She was recently elected to the National Academy of Education and nominated by President Obama to be a member of the National Board for the Institute of Education Sciences. Kris is Principal Investigator in the Connected Learning Research Network project, Leveraging Horizontal Expertise, which examines the tension between everyday knowledge and school-based knowledge, and how the two grow into one another.

Bill Penuel is professor in educational psychology and the learning sciences in the School of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder. His research focuses on learning with digital media in both formal and informal settings. Bill is Principal Investigator in the Longitudinal Survey of Connected Learning, which is a survey-based research study that is examining children’s participation in connected learning environments in late elementary and middle school and the relationship of participation to valued outcomes.

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Key Questions and Comments

  • (06:10) One metaphor I think about when I think about connected learning is to think about 'learning as movement.' Especially when it comes to youth learning: our youth move across a range of contexts...
  • (13:16) The choices that young people make--about the activities they choose to join, as well as...how they choose to transform their participation within activities--these actually are the moments that we can think about as opportunities to assess how young people are learning.
  • (17:20) [Connected learning outcomes, as defined by the work in the Longitudinal Study of Connected Learning] Attachment to Prosocial or Conventional Environments; Connectedness; Positive Sense of Future; Sense of Social Place/Integration; Civic Engagement; Grades
  • (24:26) A lot of the work, when teachers try to go some of the learning that you describe, is getting them to "take back assessment"...reminding teachers that assessment is in their power, becaise I think it's been taken away from them. They're struggling with the "how do I know it when I see it?"
  • (28:50) How do you make meaningful assessments that are usable in the design of school right now? Because it's easy to fall back on these paper and pencil tests, because they're there.
  • (29:21) One thing I think is really important to focus folks' attention is how much the success in school depends on a full range of supports that are available to young people, out of school and around school.
  • (33:11) I think you're talking about, Lisa, is this ideal of transparency in assessment...if I'm going to hold you to account for something, you should be aware of the standards by which I make those judgments.
  • (34:52) Oftentimes, it seems that young people don't make connections across environments and communities. How do we encourage them to remember to make those connections, and how do we build that in?
  • (36:30) If we look at our own lives...the way we made it is we moved successfully from one setting to another and deepened our own learning, probably because someone encouraged us to see something we didn't see for ourselves...I think this is partly about expanding the role of the educator...it's really about forming a developmental alliance with a young person.
  • (42:57) One metric I think you're alluding to is the idea of 'what's the sharing network look like of how people help one another in an organization?'...Social network analysis is a really powerful tool for identifying strengths...
  • (43:55) As educators, we have to really ask ourselves those hard questions. That, if you're pushing individual competitive achievement at the expense of other kinds of contributions, we're not actually creating healthy collective systems. Ideally, you want both of those to be functioning at a very high level where individuals are realizing their potential but also making contributions back to the collective that elevates everybody.
  • (49:45) A lot of what's going on in school is that pressure to get something out there. Parents want to know 'how are their kids doing?' They want to know really quickly, they don't want to wait...So what do you do to support and show the progress that's being made in a way that is both meaningful and gives the understanding that it's a process, it's not a static thing.
  • (52:46) A really important principle of connected learning is that equity is threaded across the processes: our design processes, our assessments...that it's really part and parcel of the way we think about doing this work. And it's not simply something that we take up at the end or the beginning.

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