Education is a journey and a process. I recall the hours spent transferring notes to recipe cards and the late nights in preparation for those ‘big’ exams. Matching, multiple-choice, true and false, short answer, and long answer, were some of the variant questions seen on exams. My parents held a high standard for academics. They would remind me of what they sacrificed in their home countries (the Czech Republic and Colombia) and how education held value and success. I also reminisce on the anxiety brought on by these assessments, expectations, and experiencing relief when it was all over but found myself holding my breath until I received my mark. It seemed to always be about the marks. Comparing where you ranked amongst your peers. What was the class average? What would my parents say? What would my friends say? As an educator, I include this empathy, based on my past experiences, when considering the appropriate assessments for my students. It is as clear as ever that teachers must reflect on a variety of assessment tools and strategies. As I said, education is a journey and I truly appreciate the current norm of formative and summative approaches to showcase understanding.
Our colleagues Christina, Janelle, Laurie, and Ramona covered several assessment technologies relevant in today’s classrooms. I was fixated on the evolution of assessment technologies in education and connected the timeline to the article written by Peggy A. Ertmer and Timothy J. Newby (1993) on Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism. This article does not only define instructional design but how we design and implement assessments. I believe that each student learns in a unique way and through establishing rapport with the student, the educator finds authentic ways in which assessment can be practiced so that the student may experience success through demonstrating growth. As I refer back to my assessment practices, I see myself closely aligning as a constructivist through my attempts to facilitate learning by creating authentic experiences for my students as they learn in cross-curricular situations so that they may make connections to prior learning and build upon those foundations of learning. I also apply opportunities for peer and self-assessment and reflection to empower my students with ownership and accountability.
I believe that education has evolved into something more flexible and fluid, and so too has assessment and its’ tools and strategies. Assessment technologies such as GoFormative, Plickers, and Flipgrid are fantastic options if used with purpose and provide the potential opportunity for student growth. Dr. Ismail Elmahdi, Dr. Abdulghani Al-Hattami, and Dr. Hala Fawzi’s (2018) article Using Technology for Formative Assessment to Improve Students’ Learning discusses a study completed with emerging educators on the use of Plickers in the classroom. The study also inquired about the rationale for using this assessment technology. Many of the responses were ‘because it is fun’ or ‘it saves time’ (p. 186). It is clear that some assessment technologies are flashy and fun, but if there isn’t a true foundational purpose for implementation, is there a point in using the technology? Educators must reflect and consider if their assessments are authentic and purposeful. Additionally, we should also be asking who the assessment benefits? Is the assessment fair for all learners? Did I use language that can be understood by all my learners? I am grateful for having had the opportunity to listen to this presentation this summer as I plan to reflect and refine my current assessment practices to ensure that I am being purposeful and authentic in delivery. What are your favourite or go-to assessment tools?
Finally, as I compare my current assessment practices and beliefs to those asked of our school division, some items align and others contradict. As a ‘Connected Educator’ in my school division, it is encouraged to explore and utilize assessment technologies to meet the needs of our students. The encouragement excites me as an educator due to the possibilities, but as I mentioned I still want to be authentic and purposeful in my selections. Division assessments such as the Common Outcomes Math Assessment (COMA) and the On-Demand Writing Assessment (ODWA) deviate from my teaching and assessment philosophies by nature of their construct. I aim at developing and providing my students with flexible options that guide and promote academic growth that get students excited to learn, develop and build upon their skills of knowledge (life-long learners). To close, I found this interesting article that compliments many of the points I’ve attempted to illustrate in this blog. I hope you find it a good read!