Second Semester, S.Y. 2012-2013 has come to close and finals is fast approaching for my 1st year students in my subject “Communicative English I”. I hope that they can answer the exam with all confidence that it would be a benefit for their future.
Well it is not easy to teach 65 Thai students without the right kind of assessment. Is it only pencil and paper tests that we can say that they are learning? That is, what I fear before. What if I can’t pass or maybe just to pass it, but deep inside I know I have learned something and may apply it to my life.
When it comes to classroom assessment as their teacher, have I asked myself, where are they right now? Am I reflective enough in answering this question? Does it serve my purpose?
In my own little way of expressing assessment thus serves our purpose which may lead to the way on how I teach, and how it can be a tool for learning. A lot of things went to my mind based from my experience with the above class that I have as to:
- know student’s capabilities on how they learn
- look for their strengths and weaknesses
- find things that motivates them in learning
- know how they handle/overcome difficulties in learning
- give consideration (on why students gaining/not gaining from their learning)
- make them self-enduring students
- give rewards (as motivation/reinforcement)
- give enlightenment to students
- learn from them
- know when they have learned things
Now having said that, I could reflect more and these would further enhance my abilities in teaching and using assessment as a learning tool, but where did assessment first all started?
Upon viewing the provided webcast and according to Dr. Earl that history will show us that assessment from the time of Plato through conversations, from performance, moving from rural areas to cities, barter to monetary system, through designing that supports us to ensure, to acculturate, to bring community together, supporting and collecting in deciding who gets more. Using tests, exams, projects, report cards until to the certain point of having “High Quality Education for All” that it is no longer decides who gets more, but an assessment that takes a different route to be able to move forward, well a life time of achievements!
Achievements are reached through overtime of continuous learning and this is the time where assessments are most valued / used with the purposes in mind.
In connection to the Dr. Earl’s symbolic meaning of “Pyramid” built with a solid foundation of assessment like blocks of goal, use, purpose, evidence, outcome, decision point from the developmental stages to learning continuum. This helps us to rethink assessment not only giving marks, standardized tests, etc., but a tool for learning to us teachers and especially our learners. This gives a better understanding of the purposes of assessment. The excerpted purposes from http://resources.curriculum.org/secretariat/files/April27Guide.pdf as follows:
- Assessment FOR Learning: formative assessment that occurs during instruction to be used in the service of the next stage of learning.
- Assessment AS Learning: assessment that occurs when students personally monitor what they are learning and use the feedback from this monitoring to make adjustments, adaptations, and even major changes in what they understand.
- Assessment OF Learning: summative assessment designed to certify learning and report to parents and students about their progress in school.
The following adapted representation is not to disregard the above illustration “The Pyramid of Assessment”, but a way on how I can understand more its significance of the purposes that is:
- Assessment as learning
The base foundation is where the typical developmental stage of a student (with preconceive knowledge) from the start of the class, assessing them through various types of the right kind of assessment to the learning continuum that helps them to self-assess and self-monitoring students. As the learning goes with a solid foundation, we teachers look for answers that may unlock the barriers in learning as well as make them self-regulated learners.
For instance, in my class they have some difficulties in using some “expressions used” in English when communicating. Example of expressions used excerpted from the book of Kathy Gude, Oxford University Press, “Advance Listening and Speaking” when expressing personal preferences p.17:
- I’d much rather (do)….than…
- I could never do / be ….. but I really enjoy…..
- There’s no comparison between …… and…..
- I’d prefer……. to ……
- I’d be far happier doing….. than……
- Give me ……any time!
Also asking the questions:
- Which expression sounds as if it is simply contrasting one thing with another but is actually denoting a very strong preference?
- Which expression is more colloquial and would be used in an informal conversation?
Because of this situation, I don’t intend to make them memorize those “used expressions” only, but use them with feelings in a fitted situation. From gestures to facial expressions and in the long run I see them using (expressions used) in other topics. Sometimes when they have encountered these and their preconceive notions are challenged with new knowledge well I should be aware of that experience can change those information in a more learning experience, an assessment as learning.
- Assessment for learning
After laying out some examples in “expressions used” in English well it doesn’t stop there. While/after students are performing (formative assessment), you need to give feedback and maybe giving suggestions for them to absorb and express more on those expressions used, a learning concept while collecting them (evidence) would help us to know what the next move will be an assessment for learning.
- Assessment of learning
This purpose gives us awareness of our student’s growth as a learner. Evidence (running records, observation, worksheets, questioning in class, etc.) that is used to make decisions (decision point) that will answer, where are our students now?
Assessment helps to build a foundation (as a learning tool), collecting evidence with the purposes in mind that may improve the learning of each individual student and through these would be an achievement that we ought to have not only an assessment in gaining to have high marks, but a learning that assessment creates.
Earl, L. & Katz, S. (2006) Webcast on “Rethinking classroom assessment with purpose in mind.” Curriculum Services Canada. Available http://www.curriculum.org/secretariat/april27.shtml
Earl, L. The Pyramid of Assessment. Available at http://www.hpedsb.on.ca/ec/services/cst/documents/assessmenttriangleFINAL.pdf
Gallagher, A.(2012). Rethinking Assessment for Learning. Available at file:///E:/UP%20EDS%20113/Feb.%203%20-%20Feb.%207,%202013/Innovate,%20Create,%20Educate%20%20Rethinking%20Assessment%20for%20Learning.htm
Gude, K. Oxford University Press (1999). Advanced Listening and Speaking. Module1C/D-Jobs and Training, p. 17 – Expressing Personal Preferences.
Viewing and Discussion Guide. “Rethinking Classroom Assessment with the Purpose in Mind. Retrieved at http://resources.curriculum.org/secretariat/files/April27Guide.pdf