How do we make Assessment Meaningful?

Meaningful Feedback, Peer Assessment, Self-Assessment

In the Saskatchewan education system, there is a move towards assessment reform and away from the old ways of marking grades by percentage. Now, there is a different system of outcome-based assessment where educators are attempting to focus on how students are learning as a process instead of relying solely on summative assessment. This system of marking is founded on the constructivist theory which states that students must be at the forefront on their own learning as the teacher acts as a guide. Following the changes made to the assessment process, there also needs to be a shift in tracking the process of how students are learning. So how do we provide feedback in a way that is motivating to students on their personal learning journey?

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Figure 1: Saskatchewan Outcome Based Assessment

            One of the most important tasks to do as an educator, is to make sure that you are teaching on solid ground. Outcome based assessment is both a guideline for teachers and students that can actually save time in the end. Teachers need to study the curriculum in order to understand which outcomes students must know. These outcomes should be shared with the students and educational community, so that everyone is clear on what exactly students are learning. Not only does this help the educator, who can back up all they are teaching with a official curriculum, but it also helps the students who have a much clearer picture of what they are expected to learn (Saskstein, 40). As students take more responsibility in their own learning, the teacher could take a step back in order to focus on the next step, setting up a feed-back rich environment.

            While moving on to the four-scale assessment, while it is true that it can be less precise than the percentage system this can be overcome by providing valuable feedback to your students. However, in order to do this effectively students must be open and receptive to hearing feedback. Students who are not used to feedback can feel criticized and shut down, which can damage their relationship to the educational community. The first step into introducing your class to assessment entitles setting up a environment for successful feedback. Successful feedback does not only come from the teacher but also the individual student and their peers (Saskstein, 43). Set up an environment where students are comfortable with one another, where they feel safe to share, and where they feel respected.

            Another great way to introduce students to effective feedback is to have the teacher model the process themselves. An example provided by Saskstein (p 51) suggests that the teacher should listen to a podcast with the class while modeling notetaking and sharing. This is a great way to work on listening skills, feedback skills, and an opportunity to connect with students. Parents could also be involved with modeling feedback while attending extracurricular activities or even being invited into the classroom for project presentations (Edugains, 50). Instead of simply applauding, they could offer feedback that is collected at the end of the presentation. By building an environment of constantly hearing feedback from multiple sources, students become immersed into assessment culture and personal responsibility in their learning.

January 27 2020

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