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University of Connecticut Neag School of Education ORCA

Show Me: Overview

Each assessment scenario in the ORCA Project is designed to assess real-time reading processes and products as students Locate, Evaluate, Synthesize, and Communicate (LESC) information while reading in one of three formats. The first assessment format, ORCA-Open, engages readers with the Open Internet, a dynamic and unbounded online digital information environment.

A second assessment format is ORCA-Closed. Tasks in the ORCA-Closed format are also designed to engage students with the four LESC processes (locate, evaluate, synthesize, and communicate), but student work is conducted within the confines of a simulated, closed Internet environment. To develop this closed environment, replicas of the websites found in the ORCA-Open environment were created and linked together in a simulated closed space that also contains a fully functioning search engine known as “Gloogle”.

A third assessment format is ORCA-Multiple Choice (ORCA-MC). This format is also designed to measure the four LESC processes. However, rather than asking students to actively use search engines and navigate within and across multiple websites in a real-time manner, screenshots of key stopping points for locating, evaluating, synthesizing, and communicating are paired with prompts and multiple choice items in a closed digital interface. Students are asked to review the screenshots at each step of the inquiry process and respond by selecting the most appropriate choice before moving on to the next item in the scenario.

Table 1 describes the scenarios for two of the eight ORCA tasks; the Energy Drinks task in the Closed environment and the Video Games task in the Open environment. Click on the View Videos link after each description to explore a complete video recording of one higher- and lower-performing reader as each conducts research on the Internet to complete the task. Notations about important skills that are present or absent in each segment are provided to support your understanding of online reading comprehension strengths and areas of need among a diverse population of seventh graders in two states.

TABLE 1: Example Scenarios for Two ORCA Tasks

ORCA Closed Using Gloogle Search ORCA Open Using Google Search

Energy Drinks / Email Task
Purpose: To compile information

How do energy drinks affect heart health?
The president of a school board sends an email to students indicating she is considering a ban on energy drinks sold in school. Students conduct online research and email the school board with findings about how energy drinks affect teen heart health.

Scenario: A student at Kiley Middle School explains that the President of the School Board needs their help.The principal, Ms. Torres, wants them to research the question, How do energy drinks affect heart health? Then, use their research to email the School Board President a message about how energy drinks affect heart health.

Videogames / Wiki Task
Purpose: To investigate conflicting claims

Do video games hurt your eyes?
A class studying eye health is collecting different opinions about this issue. Students are asked to conduct research and edit/revise the class wiki to provide their opinion and reliable evidence that supports their reasoning.

Scenario: A student in Mr. Henry’s class explains that they are building a class wiki. They need help with the section on eye health. Some think video games can harm your eyes. Others do not. Students are asked to do research and take a position. Then, use their research to revise the class wiki by editing the headings and/or adding or deleting information about videogames.


Video of Higher-Performing Reader


Video of Lower-Performing Reader


Video of Higher-Performing Reader


Video of Lower-Performing Reader

Table 2 below describes the basic requirements for items designed to engage students with the four LESC processes. Click on the View Videos link after each description to explore video segments of higher-performing and lower-performing readers as they engage with each part of the task in either the ORCA-Open or ORCA-Closed environment. Notations about important skills that are present or absent in each segment are provided to support your understanding of online reading comprehension strengths and areas of need among a diverse population of seventh graders in two states.

TABLE 2: Basic Requirements for Four Online Reading Processes

Component of Online Reading Comprehension Video Segments of Online Reading Comprehension Tasks
Locate Reading to Locate tasks (4 items) require students to use search engines, efficiently read search results, and identify websites with information that can be used to solve the information problem scenario.
Evaluate Reading to Evaluate tasks (4 items) require students to identify a website’s author and evaluate his/her level of expertise, consider the author’s point of view, and evaluate the reliability of author claims and evidence related to the problem scenario.
Synthesize Reading to Synthesize tasks (4 items) require students to integrate information intratextually (across multiple claims within one website) and intertextually (across multiple websites) in their own words, take a position on the issues involved, and use evidence from multiple online sources to support their thinking.
Communicate Reading and Writing to Communicate tasks (4 items) require students to access information in an email or wiki space and respond with information they have learned about the scenario in an appropriately crafted, visually organized, and clear message.

TABLE 3:  ORCA Items By Skill Area

Item

Item Description

 

Reading to Locate Online Information

1.

Can students locate the correct email message in an inbox or the correct section of a wiki?

2.

Can students use appropriate key words in a search engine?

3.

Can students locate the correct site in a set of search engine results?

4.

Can students identify correct website addresses in two different search tasks?

 

 

Reading to Evaluate Online Information

5.

Can students identify the author of a website?

6.

Can students evaluate an author’s level of expertise?

7.

Can students identify an author’s point of view?

8.

Can students evaluate the reliability of a website?

 

 

Reading to Synthesize Online Information

9.

Can the student summarize an important element from one website?

10.

Can the student summarize important elements from two websites?

11.

Can the student summarize important elements from a second set of two websites?

12.

Can the student summarize important elements from the websites in the research task to develop an argument?

 

 

Writing to Communicate Online Information

13.

Email Task: Does the student include the correct address line in an email message?

Wiki Task: Does the student make a wiki entry in the correct location?

 

14.

 

Email Task: Does the student include an appropriate subject line in an email message?

Wiki Task: Does the student use descriptive voice in an informational wiki?

 

15.

 

Email Task: Does the student include an appropriate greeting in an email message to an important, unfamiliar person?

Wiki Task: Does the student include an appropriate heading for a new wiki entry?

 

16.

 

Email Task: Does the student compose and send a well-structured, short report of their research, including sources, in an email?

Wiki Task: Does the student compose and post a well-structured, short report of their research, including sources, in a wiki?