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Readiness Assurance Process

Larry Michaelsen describes Readiness Assurance Process

At the first class meeting of each module an event known as the Readiness Assurance Process is completed. First, students complete an individual multiple-choice test (typically 20 questions for a 2 week module) on the readings. Following the individual test, the same test is retaken by the teams. This team test uses a special test card known as an IF-AT (Immediate feedback assessment technique). This card is a scratch and win type testing card. The team discusses a question, decides in an answer, and scratch off the coating over their choice to see if it is correct. If the answer is not correct, they return to question and discussion. They do not leave each question till they know the correct answer. Following the team test, the teams are invited to appeal in writing answers they got incorrect, due to ambiguity in question or ambiguity in readings. At the end of Readiness assurance Process the instructor can provide small clarifications on troublesome topics (using item analysis of individual test to guide this mini-lecture

Once this process is complete, the instructor has some assurance that students have acquired the background knowledge necessary to move on to problem solving.

What does it look like in the classroom?

University of Sydney Students (2:05)

University of British Columbia Students (0:36)

Classroom Logistics

Preparing team folders before class:

Team folders are very helpful for organizing group materials. You can pre-load the folders with the test question sheets and the scantron forms in your office. This makes handing-out and collecting materials much simpler. Each folder can have a Performance and Attendance record fastened to the front so it is easy to keep track of each individual’s score, attendance and the group scores for the Readiness Assurance Process

Using a seating plan to get students in the right place

With Team-Based learning it is important for each team to have their own area in the classroom. Depending on your classroom layout this may be more or less rigid. A class with 120 students and fixed, tiered seating used this seating plan to organize their class.

Distributing team folders and starting individual test

At the beginning of each Readiness Assurance session each team receives their team folder. The team folder should contain the question sheets, scantron forms and appeal forms. Teams are instructed to close all books and put away reading materials and wait for instructions to open the folders and begin their tests.

Once the test is complete the students place their scantron forms in their team folder (They retain the question sheets). The folders are then exchanged for the IF-AT sheets. The individual test sheets are then scanned by instructor or TA during the team test and returned to the team folders.

Distributing IF-AT cards and starting team test

Team tests begin immediately after the individual test. The same test is re-taken in the student teams. Team tests are noisy and often chaotic events as students discuss and negotiate their answers. Using a special kind of test sheet known as an IF-AT sheet can significantly increase the amount of learning that takes place during the team test. IF-AT forms (Immediate Feedback-Assessment Technique) are ‘scratch-and-win’ style answer sheets that provide immediate affirmative and corrective feedback for the team portion of the Readiness Assurance Process tests. For information on IF-AT forms, visit; http://www.epsteineducation.com/how.php

“The IF-AT is an important component of our Team-Based Learning approach. The immediacy of the feedback allows team members quickly to correct their misconceptions of the subject matter and, even more importantly, learn how to work together effectively. The IF-AT virtually eliminates members dominating team discussions. “Pushy” members are only one scratch away from having to “eat crow” and quiet members are one scratch away from being validated and 2 scratches away from being told that they need to speak up. The impact of the IF-AT on student learning is dramatic, as rooms often fill with cheers and high fives when correct answers are identified–and moans when answers are missed.”

TBL in Law School - Simulated Discussion

Law students simulate typical problems with students acting as a "dominator" and a "social loafer." Teammates show varied, authentic responses to working on a team quiz.

Scoring Individual test during team test

Although not essential, Scantron-type machines provide a fast and easy way to grade individual Readiness Assurance Process tests. Individual accountability is the key and using a scanner allows you to use the results to focus the instructor clarification or mini-lecture. Our favourite scanner is the Apperson Advantage 1200 because it is cheaper, faster and more versatile than others we have tried: http://www.appersonedu.com/ADVabout.asp

Concluding team test

Once the team test is complete the instructor will:

  • return the graded individual tests to the students using the team folders
  • post team scores on board or overhead
  • encourage teams to use the appeal process.

Handling appeals

At end of team test, teams are encouraged to appeal questions that they got incorrect. Only teams can appeal, no individual appeals are acepted. The team must fill out the appeal form and present a scholarly written argument to defend their position (see form for details). The instructor makes it clear that the appeals will only be considered outside of class time and that the results will be announced at the next class meeting. This does a few important things: 1) Gets student back into content where they have a lack of understanding 2) Instructor can truncate “marks whining” conversations that may occur during the mini-lecture/test review.

RAP Appeal Form and Instructions

Doing Instructor Clarification/Mini-Lecture

At the end of the testing and appeal phase, instructors can open the floor to student questions about the content or respond to items identified in the individual test as challenging to students. If a test scoring machine is used, then instructors can also use the item analysis results from the individual tests to identify topics that should be reviewed.This let instructors concentrate on what the students don’t know rather than on what they already know.

Ending session

Students are instructed to place all question sheets, all scantron forms and the IF-AT sheet in their team folder for collection. Typically, we require that all question sheets be returned or the team will receive zero on their tests.

Timing of Process

The typical RAP takes 50-70 minutes.


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