Module 2 – Frameworks for Assessment of Student Learning
After going thru the first and second module, I realized the importance of assessment to improve both teaching and learning. Assessment is so much more than testing and grading. In fact, an effective assessment provides meaningful information. However, this meaningful information must be anchored on sound evidences. Hence, gathering of evidence is important, as well as the different components that make up the whole assessment, and how these components undergoes a cyclical process rather than a linear one.
Gathering of Evidence
The gathering of evidences is what strikes me most. Prior to learning this module, I thought that evidence of learning is gathered only from student’s output like their quizzes, assignment, examinations, research paper and other tangible works that student do. So in essence, evidence is the one we assess in order for us to give grade and to give feedback. But after going through this second module, there are just many other forms of evidences that are of importance too like evidences that are qualitative.
We need to be purposeful and intentional in doing assessment as the result of our assessment is meant to improve our instruction. Teacher needs to know the why’s, how’s, and when’s to gather evidence for effecting teaching. As to why, we have to gather evidences to help our student achieve deep or high level of thinking and for the continuous improvement of instruction. As to how, evidences are gathered thru observation and should be carefully planned into the lesson. Also, take note of spontaneous or on-the-fly indicators of learning. As to when, evidences are gathered on critical junctures, during an instructional task, at the end of the lesson, before students go to independent work, after a first draft during a lesson, after 15 minutes of independent problem solving, and other situation like observing or listening to students while they discuss with their partner, or discuss among themselves. So, it is like doing assessment all the time. The challenge now is how to develop a system that records all these evidences of learning, or how one captures evidence that we need for a particular assessment. What I learn here is that evidences need to be planned into the lesson so we will be more focus to capture the evidence that we need for a specific objective. Moreover, as teacher, we need to develop the skills necessary to integrate assessment seamlessly into our teaching. It helps to consciously review our intended learning goal/objectives and it would help a lot if we partner with colleagues (accountability partner) to learn more or practice improving our skills at gathering evidences.
Looking back from my own experience in teaching pre-schoolers, I adapted this system of using index card to take note of student learning. I used the index card to keep track of attendance and participation in class. I used to take note of students learning by writing what I think is important so I have something to write in their report card. The index card serves as my own reference but that just it, only as reference for giving grades. I failed to be more objective and intentional in using the index card as one assessment tool to improve my delivery too. Now, I will be more purposeful.
Another thing I learn from this module is the importance of using qualitative evidence. Yes, I must admit that I usually shun from giving feedbacks (in the form of writing) to student because I find it more difficult and tedious to put my assessment in words, much more communicate effectively. I am not the type who explains in details, or who can elaborate. That is why; giving quantitative grade is easier for me. But thru the lesson, I learn that qualitative evidences are just as important and therefore must not be ignored as these qualitative evidences are useful in connecting different types of data. Furthermore, there are also kinds of evidences that are given less or no interest at all. Example of this is perception. This kind of evidence is subjective; therefore needs more time to assess as each student have different takes on a particular subject/interest.
Components of Assessment
According to Westwinster website, there are four (4) fundamental elements of learner-centered assessment namely: 1) Formulating Statement of Intended Learning Outcome; 2) Developing or Selecting Assessment Measures; 3) Creating Experiences Leading to Outcomes; and 4) Discussing and Using Results to Improve Teaching and Learning. Among the four components, the last one tends to be overlooked or given little regards. Personally, I think teachers use assessment to improve or adjust their teaching but will not have enough time to discuss results with student. Assessment result in the form of general feedback to students like after quizzes/exams, reports, or project may be given by the teacher, but I think It is not enough given that assessment by definition have this goal of refining programs and improving both learning and teaching. With my own experience as learner, I don’t remember having discussion regarding result of an assessment with my former teacher/professor. As teacher to pre-school, I was not also aware of the importance of using assessment for learning though I usually give feedbacks to my student’s work. Hence, one consequence of not discussing and using results of assessment defeat the purpose of actually meeting your intended learning outcomes for the student. Similarly, there will be no improvement in your teaching and it will just be another one semester passed.
The assessment cycle follows a cyclical process. It is continuous and is integrated into the whole process. It is never meant to be a separate process. As shown in the figure below, the assessment cycle is made up of four main processes.
First, learning objectives are planned; second, learning outcomes are measured; third, learning outcomes are compared with the objectives; and last, program is redesign to improve learning. And the cycle continues as it seeks to provide better learning experience for both the teacher and the learners. In effect, learners are being help to maximize their learning potential as they progress in their level of thinking. Likewise, the teacher will be able to assess his/her teaching method to facilitate better learning experience in the class.
In summary, the framework of assessment includes gathering of sound evidences to help improve our teaching. It includes four different components that undergo a cyclical process. Assessment therefore is continuously done to improve teaching and learning.
Formative Assessment for Middle School: Gathering and Analyzing Evidence https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhL_sQwGl5c&list=PL9s6JUcLAVlAf7tEFUOyw4QWH0HMzm-D5&index=40
Fundamental Components of Learner-Centered Assessment http://www.westminster.edu/academics/accreditation-assessment/definition.cfm
Why did I enter teaching? Honestly, I never see myself as a teacher. Never did it enter my mind to pursue such career. From my schooling, teaching is a tough job, not a rewarding career. It is more of a sacrifice than a profitable work. I see teaching as a calling for those who are called to service, without expecting reward. In short, a vocation reserve for the ‘missionaries at heart. ‘
My mother is a teacher. Most of our elders who are leaders in our tribe were teachers. Those who were looked up to in our society were teachers, before other professions came. So, to be a teacher is regarded as being in a noble profession. Sadly, to our generation now, an education degree is reserve to those who did not qualify to medical, law, engineering, or other in-demand courses. That being said, I pursued an engineering degree, hoping for a better career path.
So, how did I end up being a teacher? I guess it was a blessing in disguise! In support of my husband, and being committed to rearing our children, I resign from work and became a full time homemaker. During my free time, I enrolled in online courses about Young Children’s Development and Teaching for Learning. I came to realize that teaching and learning, regardless of your profession, is inevitable. With that, I say that I am now a lifelong learner, not just for myself, or for my family, but for my community as well. Then an opportunity to teach at my child’s school came. One teacher has to exit and an immediate replacement was needed. Because of my involvement with the school, I was asked to have a teaching demo and alas, I passed the screening and accepted as pre-school teacher.
The first two weeks of teaching was traumatic. For two times, I cried and walk out in frustrations. I was about to resign, but I am not a quitter, I am a fighter and I tried to remind myself that this is but a challenge, not to give up but to get better. How can these cute and adorable kindergartners dampen my spirits? Why did they become hindrance to my new career path? This is not my expectation! Then it hits me, I am in a multi-cultural setting. I am an Asian, teaching a class of Arabs children. Don’t get me wrong, I am not bias but as to my personal observation and experience, I think Asian students behave more properly in class. And so I made a personal commitment to learn and understand these children, to know more about their cultures and traditions, to ask them their likes and dislikes, observe their behaviours and how they interact, what approaches to better communicate with them, and most important is to be sensitive to their needs for learning.
And so, I manage to survive my first semester of teaching with kindergartners. I can say that this experience taught me a lot about myself. Firstly, as a teacher, I learned to be organizing with both my lessons and classroom; I learned to be creative and more communicative; and I learned to be learner-centered in my teaching approaches. Secondly, as a colleague, I try to be as helpful as possible, volunteering my service if given the chance because I believe that this is a way of learning from those who are way ahead into teaching. And lastly, as a learner, I can say that I have learned a lot, but I still have a long way to go. Learning is a lifelong commitment now.
In conclusion, our own professional development is our obligation. We have to realize that learning is a continuing process, and that it is a never ending process. We must seek to find opportunities for learning, not just for ourselves but for our colleagues as well. Besides, it is more fun and more productive to learn when we share with or learn together with others. As the old adage says, “more minds think well than one.”
Note: I wrote this in Sept 9, 2015 as a requirement in one of my Coursera course.
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Let me share you this quote from Robert John Meehan, ‘Teachers who love teaching, teach children to love learning’
Good day to you.
I never imagine myself to become a teacher, but I was given the opportunity when my eldest daughter enters preschool. Thankfully, I tried my best and I enjoyed teaching. Now, I am studying to become a license professional teacher.
“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about” –Angela Schwindt