This week I am looking at some of the theory behind and involved in assessments, in a variety of ways, and it has me reflecting on my own practice. So as an exercise I have taken a recently used assessment I did (linked at the bottom of this blog) and will go through it and see how my practice compares (or fails to compare) with my belief and theoretical idea for assessments. This is an important thing to do, because often times as educators we believe education should be done in a certain way, and we believe we are doing it that way, but actually assessing (rather than simply reflecting) our work is a great way to measure how we do.
For this purpose, I am using an assessment I used last semester for my 10th grade health and fitness class, that was used as our “final assessment” not to be a cumulative assessment, but rather as an end of semester project and summary. This assessment was an individual presentation, that summarized a semester worth of work, and with a lot of given freedom to the students.
The purpose of this assessment is varying and includes explicit objectives as well as more implicit and secondary objectives. The explicit objectives include reflection and a summative assessment of their knowledge surrounding key concepts of the semester in an open-ended style. The implicit objectives include their research skills, project skills, and presentation skills.
Within this assessment many assumptions are made, some of which are noticeable by any observer of the assessment, and some I know from having conducted the assessment. From an objective analysis some of the assumptions that are present include the content knowledge and vocabulary knowledge the student would possess as some of the terminology is without explanation. An assumption of desire to put forward a high-quality product is present as the only external motivation or accountability towards high quality is the grade, no follow up or revisions. An assumption is made that students will be able understand the subjective terminology used in the grading rubric like “Well designed”, “acceptable”, “Strong foundation”, etc.
Last week I wrote about my beliefs for assessment, and when comparing this assessment to those three beliefs this assessment holds up well. “Regular”, while this assessment is not a recurring or regular event, it is something that was continually done and modified (in theory) from the start of the semester through the end as the students were encouraged weekly to be using this. Additionally, the purpose of this assessment was different than what I had discussed in regular assessments. “Individualized”, this assessment was highly individualized as each student could interpret or complete this assessment in their own personal way, and reflect on their own personal experiences and assess and reflect on their journey in a personal manner. “Real life”, this is another strength of this assessment as it is exactly what individuals in the fitness industry do on a regular basis to employ the skills they have and perfect their craft.
Over the past week I read some articles about assessment and when reflecting on these in relation to my assessment I think some areas of the assessment hold up strong, and some areas could be strengthened. The areas of strength are the broad methods for assessment that are applicable to the real world, the challenge that students get allowing for individualization and diversity of individuals, the use of self assessment, the use of assessment FOR learning and the inclusion of teaching skill rather than focus to a specific learning outcome based on a standardized test. The areas that could be strengthened include the lack of teacher involvement in reflection (feedback and follow-up), the lack of explicit criteria (challenging and clear with a high probability of valuable outcomes from them), and the lack of on-going assessment as a step-by-step assessment of the process would have added benefit over the final product being the only evaluation point.
While no assessment (or anything in education and teaching) is perfect or final, this assessment seems to be a good step in the right direction, with several key areas that could be improved to take a further step in that direction. I would love to hear any feedback you might have!