Monday, June 11, 2007

Assessment by Design

Dana Huff, over at, mentioned the following:

I consider myself an autodidact — perhaps not in the sense of being largely self-taught, but in the sense that I have taught myself a lot. I have taught myself a number of things, from CSS and HTML to Arthurian legend and how to cross-stitch. I think that sometimes I am frustrated when I encounter students who cannot teach themselves. I think I expect them to be able to transfer information more easily when I haven’t really given them the tools to do so.
One of the essential points of teaching yourself, though, is that you're teaching yourself something you need or want to learn. In theory, then, you will have opportunities to use what you've mastered, and you're working toward those opportunities, which will let you know how much more work you need to do. In many (I would even say MOST) cases, students view assessment as "the point beyond which I no longer need what I learned" rather than a measuring tool to see if they should move on or if they need to work harder or try a new study method or something. I believe this is exacerbated by teachers who fail to connect their units; in those cases, sadly, the students are correct - at least within the scope of the course!

I really, REALLY want to teach my students to be master learners. I've thought about incorporating an "OK level" to my assessments, particularly for grammar - making an assessment available ahead of time and anywhere along the way that students can do and prove their grasp of the content, and if they do well on it they can take an 85 for that part of the unit and skip the practice and the final assesment, and focus on areas they're struggling in or concentrate on topics that interest them. I need to play with it a little bit more, though, and see where the pitfalls lie.

Actually, I don't know that I neeeeed to do any of this; so far I've gotten good marks on my observations, so it's not like my job's on the line. But I want my students to learn BECAUSE of me, not in spite of me.


Post a Comment