A reflection about how we view and use assessments

Being an educator in an after school setting certainly poses different challenges for me with assessment; most of the time evaluations and surveys are how my programs are assessed and usually for the purposes of reporting on grant requirements or in applying for funding.  Despite this, I find that a more flexible environment for assessment that measures impact over time whether for individuals or in groups has helped me to shift my perspectives on assessment of learning objectives and program goals.  What I particularly enjoy about my role in after school programs, is that I can use the assessments (or grades) in school to learn how best to support my participants as well as to help them understand what the impact is on their learning.

In reading through the blogs of my peers, it was interesting to see the different ways we use assessment and I tried to capture how that impacted my own thinking:

First, it’s sad to think that the learning environment and expectations created by educators actually drives many students to cheat.

Second, I’ve learned that I need to have balance my emphasis on forward thinking when I frame problem solving and skill building; if I always tell students to think about their future, it ignores the reality of “right now”. It says to them that “how you are feeling right now” is not as important as what you will face in that future job. While students understand that requirements, expectations, standards and deadlines are important, we need to show the relevance and how it benefits them now or in the short-term. I’ve heard from so many students how life and school just feels like “I’m waiting to grow up”; they don’t feel ownership and motivation in their lives because they don’t have any control or ability to make decisions or informed choices.

Third, I also agree that we have to work within each system (using formative and summative assessments including standardized testing) to change our approach!  My peers have clearly thought through the implications for their students and have a good understanding of what will meet their needs as teachers but also in helping students remain engaged and motivated to learn and improve.

We’ve seen through Survivalcraft how an engaging learning environment can teach more than just content and as @ScottRoleff wrote in his blog, there are many ways to use assessment with students:

  • place appropriate emphasis on learning objectives and assessments
  • give and support constructive criticism
  • provide opportunities to improve
  • encourage advancement
  • include variety and choices
  • monitor student dialogue
  • use appropriate pacing or timing of assessments at various intervals
  • and build an attitude of confidence!

I can’t forget to mention that we had a FUN twitter session this week sharing ideas for assessment and trying out a Flubaroo quiz!  It was cool to see the results and to learn about a new tool for managing quizzes!

Any thoughts, feelings, opinions, suggestions?

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