Outdoor and off-site experiences are rich learning experiences that should not take place without some level of assessment. There are students in your class who thrive in these hands-on, minds-on situations and we need to capture evidence of their learning and also use formative assessment to enhance their learning. The more routinely we use assessment practices off-site the more we will see students rise to the occasion, thus avoiding the dreaded 'recess syndrome'. Recess syndrome is best described as how students may behave during off-site trips if they are facilitated in a similar way to recess.
Checklist are great tools for teachers to capture evidence of learning efficiently in the outdoors. The excel file below is an example of a checklist for several outdoor pursuits. Check it out:
Reflection has long been a mainstay of off-site education. These can be fantastic assessment for learning (AFL) opportunities if captured and revisited in a structured way that makes sense to the learner. Think of the experiential cycle.
When planning your off-site experience make time for reflection throughout rather than just at the end. Provide descriptive feedback to students on these reflections and have them revisit the activity, challenge or task. This can be done for almost anything from paddling a canoe to analyzing an aquatic invertebrate sample.