How to Score Student Responses
For each of four "events" (Yellowstone
fire, Mt. Pinatubo eruption, Hurricane Georges, and Montserrat
eruption), each student is asked to describe the short-term
and medium-term effects by each event on the sphere he or
she has chosen to investigate.
Chart given here lists the main effects by event upon
each sphere as stated in the readings. Each cell in the chart
lists the major hazardous effects, short term and medium term,
by event and by sphere.
Please note: There are also positive
effects that result from events, but most students will
focus on the hazardous effects. Positive effects are frequently
long-term issues. The final analysis concerning Montserrat
focuses on hazardous events in relationship to the island
in the short and medium terms.
The following rubric uses the chart as a
guide. Teachers might wish to follow this format to assess
their students' responses. An accumulation of assessments
over the course of the e-Mission project might show trends
in individual and class progress.
ESS Analysis Rubric
Main Effects + Additional Effects
accurately describes the same number of major effects
of an event on their sphere as listed plus
one or more effects.
Some Main Effects
+ Additional Effects
accurately describes the same number of effects
of an event on their sphere as listed.
Student accurately describes
some of the main effects listed plus one or more effects.
accurately describes some of the main effects.
Student accurately describes
effects not listed in the chart.
lists no effects or lists effects upon a sphere that
is not theirs.
Sample response and scoring:
The following is a response from a sixth
grade student regarding the effects of the Yellowstone fire
on the hydrosphere.
"More sediment into the water
from all of the ashes the fires were creating. The heat
might have evaporated the water, raising the humidity. The
snow happened because the smoke carried the water vapor
up into the area where water freezes when condensing, thus
creating snow. "
Applying the rubric to this sample response:
- "More sediment into the water from
all of the ashes the fires were creating."
The student mentioned one of the two main
effects of the Yellowstone fire on the hydrosphere as listed
in the chart.
- "The heat might have evaporated
the water, raising the humidity."
This part of the response reflects an
effect not listed on the chart AND reflects extended thinking
regarding the interrelationship between two spheres, hydrosphere
and atmosphere. The first part of the sentence is accurate.
The heat from the fire would cause more water to evaporate.
The second part of the sentence is both inaccurate and addresses
an interaction with a different sphere, the atmosphere.
This student did not take into account that humidity is
composed of two factorsamount of water vapor in the
air and the air temperature. Even though there is more water
vapor, the temperature would also rise due to the fire.
It is probable that the humidity actually dropped as a result
of the fire, since the rise in temperature was probably
greater than the increase in water vapor. He would receive
credit for the first part of the statement.
- "The snow happened because the smoke
carried the water vapor up into the area where water freezes
when condensing, thus creating snow. "
This part of the response represents a solid
attempt at causal reasoning, but is both inaccurate and addresses
a different sphere. As with the case of the humidity response,
this student overestimates the impact of additional water
vapor produced by the fire. The snow mentioned in the Yellowstone
fire description that fell in late September was formed in
the atmosphere independently of the fire.
Score: 2. The student accurately
mentioned one of the two main effects (more sediment in the
water) and one additional accurate effect (more evaporation).
Teacher's Note: Students at the middle
school level are at the beginning stages of abstract reasoning.
This makes it difficult for students at this age to take into
account more than one factor in a causal argument. This student
could reason about increases in water vapor but did not include
factors such air temperature or general weather patterns.
Keep an eye out for other examples. As students gain experience
in causal reasoning, they will become more comfortable with
including multiple factors in their arguments.