Undoubtedly, assessments are a core part of the learning process. It is only by assessing learners that teachers can objectively analyze the impact of their teaching. However, knowing the importance of assessments does not necessarily translate to this critical tool's effective use. As a student myself, I had examination fright while growing up. My father placed a high emphasis on grades, and I did not achieve the best grades. This fear stayed with me until my adulthood. In retrospect, I would say that my fear of being graded negatively affected my desire to grade my learners when I became an educator. When I ventured into the education sector about four years ago, I would have panic attacks during examinations because I did not want to score any student low. This scenario would play out for a significant amount of time until recently. After enrolling into a master of advance teaching program at the university of the people in early 2020, my confidence level as an educator received a boost. I learned about critical concepts on how students learn and effective ways to support different types of learners. The famous saying of George Evans suddenly had a new meaning to me. He says that “Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or the same way” (Quotes on Education, n.d).
However, this article is about my reflections on assessments as an instructor. Hitherto, I would use evaluations and assessments interchangeably. While grammatically both words can be substituted for each other, for educators, these words carry more weight and can serve different purposes. I have learned that assessment is focused on understanding what and how students learn, while evaluations aim to make judgments on the students' performance (Surbhi, 2017). This was an eye-opening revelation. I was relieved to discover that I do not need to grade students continually. This gave me some comfort because of my phobia for grades. I learned exciting ways to assess learners that can reveal a lot about a learner’s academic achievements without anxiety. Examples of great assessment tools include mind maps, learning journals, etc. Boorkhart (2019) explains how teachers can use the non-grading system of assessment, stating that “Instead of grading, they could use time more effectively by providing actionable descriptive feedback” (para. 3). When students are given descriptive feedback, it gives them a clear understanding of what they need to do to improve their performance. Another effective strategy I am inclined to use is one-on-one oral feedback to discuss with students and subsequently develop a student's performance management plan. This approach will make students critical stakeholders in their learning process and invariably can increase their intrinsic motivation.
Another assessment method I find compelling and can offer a range of information to teachers is rubrics. Even though I had been using the rubrics , I have discovered that for the best use of rubrics, the criteria should target different skill sets, and also, students should be informed on what these rubrics are before the assessment. Brookhart (n.d) says that “Rubrics are important because they clarify for students the qualities their work should have” (para. 9).
An excellent approach for educators is to educate themselves on the different assessment tools and strategies available. Weigh their pros and cons and then align these instruments with the learning goals for the lesson. I hope this post motivates educators to decide about developing their competence about the administration of assessments.
Brookhart, S. (2019, July 11). A Perfect World Is One with No Grades. Retrieved September 05, 2020, from http://www.ascd.org/ascd-express/vol14/num31/a-perfect-world-is-one-with-no-grades.aspx
Brookhart, S. (n.d). How to Create and Use Rubrics for Formative Assessment and Grading. Retrieved September 05, 2020, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/112001/chapters/What-Are-Rubrics-and-Why-Are-They-Important%C2%A2.aspx
Quotes on Education. (n.d). George Evans Quotes on Education. Retrieved from http://quotesoneducation.com/authors/george-evans-quotes-on-education/
Surbhi, S. (2017, October 21). Difference Between Assessment and Evaluation (with Comparison Chart). Retrieved September 05, 2020, from https://keydifferences.com/difference-between-assessment-and-evaluation.html