Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Assessment - educationally useful?

Excessive assessment is a cancer spreading through education which is largely detrimental.......................

In reality, how much assessment is educationally useful?


  • Excessive assessment is the blight of both learner and teacher alike. However differing forms of both formative and summative assessment can enhance the learning experience. The question has to be ...does assessment measure engagement?

    By Blogger Jane, at 9:01 AM  

  • Feedback is important, to let the student know they are progressing in the right direction. Assessment or grading generated a culture of students (which I have found in Art & Design) who are grade obsessive. "What do I need to do to get a first?" I get asked. What they need to do is forget about the grade and be innovative, something you cannot specify.

    By Blogger jayne, at 9:03 AM  

  • How long have we been assessing learning formally?

    By Blogger Ben, at 9:03 AM  

  • Not sure assessment measures engagement but rather the facility to blag marks after years of practice.............

    By Blogger Ben, at 9:08 AM  

  • Agree feedback is important to direct students in the right direction but is that direction beneficial to their learning or just the direction that the powers that be deem academically appropriate irrespective of the needs of the student?

    By Blogger Ben, at 9:14 AM  

  • I agree with Ben, are we creating "calculating students" who attempt to do enough to get through (this may be more so with pass/fail assessment rather than fine graded) or those as Jayne suggests that attempt to achieve that first class rather than engage with the material and develop a deep understanding of what they are learning. I suppose one question that follows is Does Assessment promote Learning?.....

    By Blogger Barry, at 9:18 AM  

  • Perhaps we should be redesigning assessment so that it has greater instrinsic value to the student ....

    By Blogger Jane, at 11:42 AM  

  • Assessment is intrinsic, it is socially and culturally accepted that we are all constantly measured. EG 2 yr old has to build three bricks, draw, and speak in sentences to access the latest designer nursery. 40 something must have GSOH, OH&C to find a mate.

    1.Learners have to be measured 2.Institutions must publish results 3. This is evidence that standards are being kept. 4.We all get paid and climb back on the hamster wheel.

    Ok I'll stop being cynical. I believe passionately that learning is a journey and for me the arriving is only part of the fun. Assessment needs to retain it's rigour, validity, reliability but it also needs to change me somehow, make me feel and think and behave differently to have had any real value.

    We don't want a society driven only by tangible evidence of success but one in which cognitive and emotional intelligence are ranked up there with OH&C......that's my challenge as an educator after all 'What is this life if full of care we have not time to stand and stare'.

    By Blogger Karen, at 10:55 PM  

  • I think that formative assessment can be a real help to students - the feedback can help them to guide their study to cover weaker areas, and can also give them confidence in their own abilities.

    I teach Computing subjects, and most formative assessments I write seem (hopefully)very valid - e.g. can you write a robust computer program and test it?

    However, I often have an issue with the time limit a semester imposes - the 'rush to get a first' can indeed lead to surface learning, rather than a deeper understanding of the subject. The assessments are always written with time scale, and what is achievable within that, in mind. If students had more time to develop in a subject, I would feel happier giving them an assessment which would require more research etc.

    By Blogger rose, at 6:03 AM  

  • The issue of having time to develop within a subject is particularly pertinent to the use of learning objects, indeed this is one of the criticisms of their use. Each object is bitesized and standalone and this has to impact on assessment!

    By Blogger Jane, at 11:35 AM  

  • I agree with Jane that assessment is a major blight. However, I think that some form of assessment is absolutely critical. The point is what are we asessing and why?

    I cannot remember my history of English education. From an Auatralian context, two forms of assessment have been critical from the start of public education.

    One is the assessment of the teacher by the inspector. The second is the assessment of the student via public examination.

    Barry mentioned students who attempt to do enough to get through. The enough depends upon what we mean by get through. I have always fallen in this class personally.

    One thing here that I found interesting when I moved into the work world was the way in which perceptions varied from student, education sector, employer.

    When I was recruiting for the Auatralian Public Service, we looked for students that had done okay in academic terms but who had also been active in student life.

    Our thinking was simple. Someone who had done okay (better than average) in academic terms was likely to have the skills we wanted. But someone who had donbe this and still been active in student life (the specific activity did not matter) was likely to have the practical skills we wanted.

    By Blogger Jim Belshaw, at 2:21 AM  

  • The value of placement learning is emphasised within the Foundation Degree benchmarks - backing Jim's assertion that practical activity (student life, or work place, I would suggest) is of benefit to assessing fitness for employment. There is, however, a reluctance to assess the placement as an entity; it is not perceived as 'safe' ground for academic evaluation and students are more likely to be assessed on an associated piece of 'academic' work.

    Does this make sense? Should we challenge 'safe' practice? What provides the value to the students and where are the dangers?

    By Blogger Jane, at 12:34 PM  

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