How to Make Student Assessments Useful and Productive
We can easily fall into the age-old trap of delivering an exam, grading it, and then moving on from there when it comes to assessing our pupils. However, to get the most out of the assessments we administer, we must remain focused on the two basic purposes of an assessment: gathering proof that our students have understood the topic and using the evidence to further inspire our students.
1. Make sure your assessments are valid and reliable
A test or a pop quiz can both offer you a reasonably decent picture of how well a student is doing in class, but only if the assessment is accurate and reliable and does not contain any bias. Many assessments use imprecise language, unclear instructions, or obscure cultural references that are unreliable and possibly biased. As a result, when creating assessments, be mindful of the potential dangers.
If there is no purpose to the dreaded homework, worksheets, and answering of chapter questions, these may be considered “busy work” by the teacher. An assessment is any assignment or task that is designed to aid in the teaching and learning process. Group work, projects, and written or spoken reports are all examples of assessments. Any way of examining a student’s knowledge, reasoning, or skills takes planning and forethought.
2. Give productive feedback
When it comes to giving productive feedback, it is more than just a score or letter grade; it is also more than simply a few words. Giving pupils “corrective,” timely, and criterion-referenced feedback is an important part of encouraging them as they progress through their learning process. (You may find out more about this form of feedback by visiting this page.)
For example, “this is excellent” doesn’t give the A student someplace to go from there. Furthermore, if the A student continues to receive As without putting up any additional effort, they may become comfortable and expect the A. Most of the time, the teacher also expects an A, and this expectation can creep into the exam. Consider providing that pupil with constructive feedback that will assist them in furthering their learning, such as “You were spot on in recognizing the main character’s moral issue; excellent critical thinking abilities!” Next time, I’d want to see you take into account the viewpoint of the opponent.”
In contrast, a student who obtains a C mark and is deemed “much improved” has no notion what they still need to improve on—or what they did well. Many students who are struggling are unable to identify the positive aspects of their work on their initiative. Because they believe they have little chance of improving, a C student will eventually give up trying very hard if this is the case. Then there are expectations, which leaves the door open for bias to enter. Say something encouraging, but also provide them with specific instructions on what they should focus on.
3. Use Backward Design
When organizing your lectures, I strongly advise you to employ Backward Design principles. A brief explanation of how it works follows.
Identify desired outcomes (GOALS) and set them.
Determine whether evidence is acceptable ASSESSMENT
Make a plan for your learning experiences INSTRUCTION
Step one is to determine your objectives: What do you want the kids to know, be able to reason about or be able to do is dependent on your goals.
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Identify the standards that will be used to achieve the objectives.
Create learning objectives based on the standards that have been determined.
Step number two: Create a plan for your assessment by doing the following: Keep learning tactics and evidence of learning in mind at all times.
Determine the evidence by doing the following: What do you want to see that will demonstrate to you that the student understands what you want them to understand?
Decide on the strategy: Which evidence of knowledge, reasoning, or competence will you seek from the student and how will you go about it?
Step Three: Make a list of all the things you want to do. Create lesson plans that are strategically aligned:
Create lesson plans that will aid students in demonstrating that they have met your learning objectives by submitting evidence of their accomplishments.
If your lesson plans are enjoyable and engaging, but the learning is not quantifiable, your class activities may end up looking like Pinterest boards: a great way to pass the time but with no precise goals in mind all of the time.
Visit this instructive post for more information on Backward Design.)
4. Remember that your words matter
As a teacher, I am well aware that the most time-consuming aspect of the work is the process of assessing and evaluating students. As a result, it is the most crucial element of our job to make certain that our teaching is effective and that our students are learning and motivated. At one point in my teaching career, I recall asking parents if they thought the comments I put on their children’s report cards were helpful. Their responses were a resounding affirmative! The majority of parents do not have the time to come in and speak with their child’s teacher to find out how things are going for their child. Unfortunately, many parents are unable to attend parent conferences, and others do not believe that such sessions are necessary. Those comments we laboriously create for individual pupils are highly cherished by some, and for others, they may be the only means of communication they have with us.
5. Motivate students to be responsible, active learners
Motivating pupils to learn shifts the burden of responsibility for learning from the teacher to the students, leaving the teacher to serve as a knowledge base, resource, and facilitator instead. When people believe that your goal is for them to succeed, rather than simply to “get through the next chapter” or “proctor the test,” they will be more likely to seek help, to be creative, and to want to learn even more information. “Feedback is the single most powerful improvement that can be made to improve achievement,” according to researcher John Hattie. To make teaching better, the simplest prescriptions must be “dollop after a dollop of feedback.”
The goal is to assess our pupils and then use that information to inform, empower, and motivate them purposefully and productively. Certainly, there is more work involved, but it is also more enjoyable to see the children progress and learn to challenge themselves at each stage of the process.