Feedback and writing assessment in an AI-Infused world with Norris Public Schools

Image of a classroom PD session at Norris Schools

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Writing Assessment for an AI Infused World

2023 marks the first full school year in which students have access to powerful artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT. This brings incredible new teaching and learning potential,  but also new challenges, especially when it comes to writing assessment. Seeking to balance this challenge and optimize teacher feedback workflows, Norris Public Schools brought in the Short Answer team to work with their educators toward the following goals:

PD Goals

  • Reduce teacher workload through more efficient, effective feedback processes
  • Equip staff with strategies and tools to assess authentic student writing in a ChatGPT-infused world.
  • Improve student engagement

All Juice, No Squeeze

The first session focused on writing instruction and feedback processes. Activating students as instructional resources for one another to improve learning outcomes and decrease feedback workload was of particular focus. The scaffold of comparative judgment, core to Short Answer’s pedagogy, was explained along with the research underpinning it. Educators took part in interactive activities they could then use to implement this approach in their classrooms.

Short Answer’s bite-sized, in-class writing activities were demonstrated as a meaningful way to control for AI influence and ensure that the writing teachers are assessing is actual student writing. Brief, engaging, in-class writing reduces the chance for students to rely on external AI tools; the session detailed how these immediate, genuine demonstrations might be used to garner more authentic insights into a student’s writing abilities. “Generating and defending scientific claims is a major point of emphasis for me,” said Natasha Gault, a middle school science teacher at NPS. “Short Answer will be a great tool to develop and assess those writing abilities with my students. This was such a useful, timely session.”

“Short Answer will be a great tool to develop and assess writing abilities with my students. This was such a useful, timely session.”

Teacher uses short answer on a computer
Ms. Janelle Coady, an english teacher at Norris High School, demos a Short Answer activity

Principles of Effective Feedback

The second session was anchored in the teachings of Dr. Dylan Wiliam’s Embedded Formative Assessment. Using five principles of effective feedback drawn from Wiliam’s work, the session demonstrated a tool or activity for each principle. Educators gained a nuanced understanding of research-backed feedback principles along with a toolkit of strategies ready for immediate classroom implementation. “I think Short Answer is a great way for me to show students good and bad projects and let them sort them,” said Scott Hakel, an industrial technology teacher at Norris High School, “this was such a helpful presentation.”

100% of attendees surveyed reported finding an activity they planned to use in the upcoming school year.

The Short Answer Impact

Short Answer’s collaboration with Norris Public Schools highlights the power of targeted professional development when paired with an easy to implement tool like the Short Answer web app. 100% of attendees surveyed reported that they’d found a helpful activity that they will use in the upcoming school year. “It was great to work with Adam and Short Answer, I know our staff learned a lot from these sessions,” said Jason Gault, the technology integration specialist at Norris. “I’m excited to work with Short Answer team as the tool continues to grow and develop.”

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