Monday, February 22, 2010

Assessment Thoughts and Strategies

The process of assessment can be successful based on the time and effort expended to prepare the assessment and use the results of the assessment. Good assessments take time to prepare. Better assessments are clearly linked to and derived from student learning. The best assessments are developed to improve student learning. Understanding the process of student assessment must begin with an understanding of improvement and reporting.

Whether the assessment is summative or formative, traditional, essay, multiple choice exam, or project or portfolio based, assessment is one method to improve learning. The cycle of assessment is an important one, and one that can improve teaching practices and learning.

Improvement occurs with results. Results from some form of assessment, whether internal or external, can be one indicator of a need for improvement. The level of specificity for improvement is often related to the level of specificity in the results. The more specific the results are, the more specific an improvement can be. The danger in using general results for specific improvement can result in improvements that do not change processes.

For continuous improvement to occur, assessments must become a natural part of the culture. Each and every process must be carefully and deliberately assessed to determine the impact, the effect, the scope and reach of the process. Does the process accomplish what was intended? Are we constantly and consistently reviewing everything we do with improvement in mind?

When empowered with the resources to succeed, most individuals will review and reflect to improve everything. There is a certain sense of both self-improvement at the individual and cultural level. We want to do “things” better than before. If things are better, there is a perception that the process (in this case, teaching and learning) is better and more robust.

Some may be content with the status quo. Their perception of the processes has identified no need for change. The processes work. They have worked and there is no need for or to change. However natural that supposition may be, it does not reflect the enormous changes in technology, the changes in students, the changes in societal expectations. We need to become agents of and for change and improvement.

We know the “what” of assessment – this is the form, test, lab experiment, essay, project, performance, portfolio. Focusing on the why can begin to lead to improvements. We assess to evaluate instruction, curriculum, technology, student learning. Is each element contributing to the overall focus of student learning? Has student learning, the breadth and depth of learning, been positively changed? How do we know?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Assessment thoughts

A good assessment measures. A good assessment lets people know what they have learned, and how well they have learned. A good assessment is neutral, and indicates the level of knowledge, a demonstration of ability.

Assessment should not be used without a clearly defined purpose. Assessments indicate what has been learned well, and what has not been learned as well. Assessment can be used to focus learning.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Stop sign. Four way stop.
Originally uploaded by dpeter475

Did you stop learning this week? Hopefully not. Learning is an activity, a process, a journey, a vocation. Lifelong learning carries each of us along our way.

Did you stop TO learn? It's often easy to "learn as we go" throughout the week. Sometimes we need time to reflect, we need to pause, we need to take time for learning.

Stop to learn, and stop for learning.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Deep or shallow

Teaching for surface knowledge can only result in surface learning. Teaching for deep knowledge results in deep learning. Simple statements with impressive results.

Teach deep, really deep and watch learning grow in unexpected ways.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Concept maps, outlines and doodles

So, how many outlines have been created this week? What does an outline "DO" for the student?

I've started doing some thinking about outlines. For me, there are times when an outline is my first step to writing. An outline helps provide structure and organization.

A concept map (or mind map) can help me organize my thoughts. There are a number of web-based applications for concept map creation, some free, some for a fee. But they all provide access to a web-based, web-created map.

I watch how people take notes. Some will write notes in an outline format. Some will draw arrows, diagrams.

Is one method better than another? I'm not quite sure. I've used all three separately, and collectively. The outline (in paper form) is more static, than the fluid and dynamically shifting web-based concept map.  And then, there's always the napkin doodle. I can easily move from one form to another, depending on the availability of technology.

For me, the goal is to promote brainstorming, and organization. The method is flexible.
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