August 17, 2007

Practicing what I Preach

This post was last updated on September 5th, 2011 at 11:05 am

I’ve had a great experience teaching undergrads at the University of Regina.  It’s been a great way to try out some ideas and try and build on George Siemens’ idea of connectivism as well as everything else I’ve learned from my network.

I’ve spent a great deal of time over the past number of years studying and leading changes in assessment in our school division. So after leading workshops and discussion with teachers, it was an opportunity to practice the beliefs and strategies I held firmly.

We have set these seven principles to guide assessment practices in our division:

1. Students are the key assessment users.

2. A balance of assessment for and of learning should be used.

3. Assessment should be constructive; it should focus on achievement and progress.

4. Assessment and instruction are interdependent.

5. Good quality assessments must be followed by effective  communication.

6. Assessment expectations and curricular outcomes should be communicated clearly to students from the beginning.

7. Meaningful and appropriate assessments should include evidence about student achievement in the areas of content, process and product.

So how did I do? Well I hoped that my students felt they were part of the assessment. Their blogs served as their personal reflection tool and they did an outstanding job at analyzing their beliefs and sharing their frustrations and challenges.  In this way, they led much of their own learning.  Concepts of “assessment for” and “assessment of” learning were both in action. I tried to guide and provide feedback throughout their endeavors and was also able to send out a mid-term report that included a grade and evaluation of their progress.  I certainly tried to build on achievement and progress. Using assessment to change instruction is one area I’m not sure I was able to achieve. The idea that assessment changes instruction is very powerful. Certainly I will take student feedback and learning to change instruction for next time, but the short time frame of the class made this very difficult. Between emails and blog comments, I tried to provide each of my 14 students will regular input. An online class can be very isolated and requires special attention. As the course progressed, students began doing this for each other;  that was great to see.  The expectations for this class was to experience that:

  • Learning is social and connected
  • Learning is personal and self-directed
  • Learning is shared and transparent
  • Learning is rich in content and diversity

These ideas are difficult to assess and grade.  Student’s post demonstrate their understanding of these ideas and I have to trust that they did experience this in varying degrees.  How important is it to break down each of the ideas into measurable data? Perhaps I could have broken these idea down further.  Evidence of their learning was demonstrated in their blog posts, weekly assignments and synchronous sessions.

You’ll notice our principles say nothing about grades. I hate grades, especially using a 100 point scale. They’re fake. I have a hard time telling one student they received a 89 and another a 84. I’m not smart enough to tell the difference. We continue to perpetuate the use of grades to rank students. I hope my students leave this class with having experienced the ideas I’ve outlined and not a grade. Anyways, I digress.

So overall I’d give myself  84 . Let’s just say I got most of it right but will work on a few other things.

[tags]uregina,assessment, prairiesouth,grades[/tags]