Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Module 5: Student Assessment

This module has helped me think about student-centered assessment in the following ways...

When I was a high school student, it felt like teacher grading was very arbitrary and inconsistent. If there were rubrics for grading, I don't remember ever seeing them! I was very fortunate, however, that I consistently met the teachers' standards, whatever they were.

Even in my undergraduate education, it seemed there was little rhyme or reason to the grading. I remember one professor in particular that seemed to just "give" grades. It didn't matter what I did on my assignments, my grade was always 88 percent. I had no idea what I needed to do to improve and really no idea what I was doing correct, either. This professor taught a sequence of public relations classes and my final grade was that dreaded 88 percent. 

As a prospective teacher, clear grading is very important to me precisely because I've had so many unclear expectations. 

When a student knows exactly what's expected, the student can take more control of the grade. It is a clear cause and effect situation. You put in X amount of effort, you get Y results. 

This also takes away any confusion on teacher expectations.

Making the assessment all about what the student DOES and not what the teacher WANTS is an important distinction. A good assessment will show students what they did correctly and what they need to work on.

A good rubric has very clear language. "Student uses good grammar most of the time" is very vague. What does "most of the time" really mean? A better option would be: "Student has 1-4 grammar errors." 

This information should also be given to students prior to completing the assignment. The guidelines must be clear.

I have heard many teachers say "I do not give grades, students earn them." This is what a student centered-assessment is supposed to facilitate. 

I am also very glad there are tools to help create rubrics. One teacher I spoke with recently said he hated making rubrics because they took so much time. But, this teacher isn't very tech savvy and didn't know about websites like Rubistar or iRubric or Rubrics4Teachers.

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