November 19, 2011

Personalized Assessment Part 2

This post was last updated on November 20th, 2011 at 03:50 pm

It might help to read Part 1.

I've been teaching a course at the University of Regina for over 5 years. I've taught it for roughly 12 sections over that time. I really don't enjoy the assessment process. While I've had a wack sack of training and embrace the idea of student's owning their own assessment, too many intuitional and societal barriers still make it less than ideal. I've told my students this as well.

On the practical side, here are some things I've done to try and make assessment as useful as possible.

1. Co-creation of criteria. Although students often struggle with "what I'm looking for" I really want them to look for it themselves. With my learning project, we built this.

2. Choice. Like most teachers I give them lots of choice. They can choose the type of projects they want to explore and I make it clear they should be able to come up with alternative assignments if they choose. Many still beg me to just "tell them what to do". I won't.

3. Use your strengths. This term I  have 3 major assignments worth 25% each by default. I allow my students to change the weighting of these to as low as 15% and bump up others they find use more of their strengths.

4. Insist on social learning. My students are required to give each other feedback. In true community, this is organic so in that respect it often feels forced but I know they learn as much or more from each other as they do from me. Even when students email me a question, my first response is usually, "Have you read your classmates blogs?" because often their answer is there.

5. Self Assessments. I require my students to grade themselves and justify their grade. In most cases, I end up using their own recommendation however anyone who's ever done this will attest to the fact that students are often harder on themselves than you would.

Throughout the course I remind them how useless I think grading is and how much I want them to enjoy and value learning without worrying about grades.

Today made me think about why I was apprehensive about this project at the very first mention of it. I regret being apprehensive, because A) I’m learning something I have always wanted to and B) I’m being graded on an assignment that I do when I want to, however I want to, I just have to document my thinking… http://staceyjc3.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/wherewhenwhy/

I really want to work at making the assessment process less painful, less important and perhaps even useful. If you've got some techniques or ideas or criticisms. on this please share.