Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Assessment for Learning

Anne Davies' presentation/workshop on 'Assessment for Learning' today at the QAIS conference was a real eye opener for me. Assessment FOR learning is nothing like assessment OF learning. As teachers, we live under the 'plague' of assessment/evaluation. What if there were other ways to assess our student's progress would also encourage their natural desire to succeed?

Here's what I took away from today for immediate implementation in my classroom: involve the students in generating the criteria for assessment and they become powerfully 'engaged' in their own learning. It makes sense because involving them is the bridge to 'intrinsic motivation'. If students know that they have generated (or at least partially generated) the criteria for assessment (the rubric), they become true 'stakeholders' in their own learning.

In the land of educational theorists, vocabulary can be a deterrent in the effective communication of powerful concepts. Don't be fooled by the language. To become engaged is to care about what happens to you and around you. I can't think of a more important quality for authentic (OK, real) learning than 'owning' that learning. If students participate in generating the criteria, not only will they be more 'engaged' but this will nurture and encourage intrinsic motivation...and THAT is what separates those who succeed from those who don't. Talent and brains don't guarantee success if the motivation is not intrinsic! (If you don't believe me, listen to Dan Pink talk about the science of motivation on Ted.)

I look forward to reading her book and working with my colleagues on how to improve our assessment tools so that our students can become better learners.

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