This is my reflection on the most important things I learned in this course, which are to understand the purpose of evaluation, to use assessment for learning by employing informal assessment strategies and to use a structured process when creating or modifying assessment instruments.
Understand the purpose of evaluation
One of the things I learned in this course is that I’m not the only person who doesn’t like to be evaluated. As an Adult Basic Education (ABE) math teaching assistant, I frequently have to administer tests to reluctant learners who hate tests, and I’m going to spend more time explaining why we test them so that my students can become more confident that the purpose of the testing is to help them learn. In addition, I’m going to use the time when reviewing the assessment with a student not just as a wrap-up report at the end of the learning but as a conversation starter to give the student an opportunity to talk not only about the assessment, but also about their progress in general.
Also, in order to understand how to evaluate, teachers must also understand why they are evaluating students. I’m going to approach informal assessment with more clarity of purpose and try to glean more information about my students’ progress, about their background knowledge and about how they feel about what they’re doing (Fenwick & Parsons, 2009, pp. 4-5).
Use Assessment for Learning
Also, I learned about the value of informal assessment strategies, and I’m going to use them more frequently in my practice. Just from my first reading of the textbook and from the Informal Assessment strategies project, I’ve identified the following 4 strategies that I’ll be incorporating in to my practice immediately:
- Muddiest Point
Beforedoing a required unit or book test, students do a practice test. Before I give them the actual test, I’ll be asking them to tell me their muddiest point, so we can go over anything they’re really not sure about.
- Background Knowledge Probe
Beforestarting a new unit, I usually explain a little of what the student can expect in each topic. I’ll add asking them what they know about the topics in to my process.
- Document Problem Solutions
Document Problem Solutions emphasizes explaining how to solve the problem, not necessarily solve the problem. Since I already use a similar strategy when I do a role-reversal and have students walk me through solving a problem, I plan to incorporate writing down their steps as they explain them to me in to my practice to provide them with a more formalized version of their own process.
- Problem Recognition Tasks
The insight I had in this course that will have the biggest impact on my practice is the realization that many of my students stumble not on solving the problem, but on recognizing which solution to employ. Problem Recognition Tasks emphasizes identifying the problem type, not solve the problem, a skill not directly taught in most Math programs, although it is learned by math students through doing many problems and learning to recognize the problem type simply through repetition, which is very time consuming. I’ve started to try to speed up the process by providing students with opportunities to recognize the problem type, not solve each problem and it’s already had a positive impact on the results of three of my students. (Angelo & Cross, 1993)
Use a structured process
Also, I learned about the value of using a structure process for developing any assessment instrument. Using such an approach takes more time upfront, but helps to guarantee that the assessment instrument is valid and reliable. I’ll be incorporating the processes I learned when I develop assessment instruments in the future.
Angelo, T. A., & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Fenwick, T., & Parsons, J. (2009). The Art Of Evaluation: A Resource for Educators and Trainers, second edition (Second ed.). Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing Inc.