Publications & Resources

Group Discussion and Large-Scale Language Arts Assessment: Effects on Students’ Comprehension

Aug 1997

Randy Fall, Noreen Webb and Naomi Chudowsky

Large-scale assessment programs are beginning to design group assessment tasks in which small groups of students collaborate to solve problems or complete projects. Little is known, however, about the effects of collaboration on students’ cognitive processes and performance on such tests. The present study compared student performance on language arts tests in which they either were or were not permitted to discuss the story they were required to read and interpret. The analyses compared the quality of student responses on test forms with and without collaboration, examined qualitative changes in students’ responses before and after collaboration, and examined students’ reflections about the impact of collaboration on their understanding of the story. The results show that a 10-minute discussion of the story in three-person groups had a substantial impact on student performance. Implications for the design and interpretation of large-scale testing with collaboration are discussed.

Fall, R., Webb, N., & Chudowsky, N. (1997). Group discussion and largescale language arts assessment: Effects on students’ comprehension (CSE Report 445). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).