Assessment of and for learning
Willy A Renandya – 18 June 2021
We are slowly moving away from an over-reliance on summative assessment (assessment of learning) and beginning to incorporate formative assessment (aka assessment for learning) in our teaching.
This is of course a welcome development and is in line with current thinking in education that places greater emphasis on the process (and not so much on the product) of learning.
Learning is now seen as an ongoing process of building, revising, refining and expanding knowledge. It should continue after a lesson ends or even after students have completed their formal education.
In John Dewey’s words: “Education should be perceived as a continuing reconstruction of experience”.
In other words, education is a never-ending process; it’s a life-long process of acquiring, modifying, extending, deepening and transforming knowledge.
To me the quote above means that our job is not simply to pass on knowledge to our students and then assess their mastery of this knowledge using our standard summative assessment tool.
As a responsible educator, our job is to guide students in constructing, deconstructing and reconstructing knowledge. It is our job to help students reflect on their learning on an on-going basis, helping them become aware of what they have learned and identifying areas that they still need to learn, supporting them in their knowledge-seeking and knowledge-improving behaviour.
If we accept the premise above, shouldn’t we give assessment for learning a greater focus in our teaching?
Here are some sparkling nuggets for you to reflect on:
- Assessment is not just to prove that learning has/not happened; it also serves to improve learning.
- Instead of asking how well students performed on the test, ask how much and how well students know about the curriculum contents.
- Teaching and assessment should go hand in hand. Embed assessment for learning in your teaching
- Use multiple modes and channels for assessing student learning.
- The psychometric model of assessing learning should gradually be replaced by more reliable and authentic measures that reflect real-life use of the knowledge and support the attainment of 21st century competences (e.g., critical thinking)