Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Making assessments work for you ... and your students

What better way to begin a discussion about assessment than with an assessment?  We began with a somewhat tongue-in-cheek quiz about the "right" way to conduct an assessment, modelling some common faults in poor assessments while also serving as a brainstorm to get some ideas out there.  We presented some background theory on assessment, drawing from the excellent text: Handelsman, J., Miller, S., & Pfund, C.  Scientific Teaching, highlighting three reasons for assessment:

  • Quantifying student performance, measure students as learners
  •  Measuring our own effectiveness as instructors
  •  Motivate students

Handelsman offers a particular focus on the third with their concept enGauge, tools that both measure performance and motivate engagement with the material, often in real-time setting rather than waiting to the final exam.  From here we moved into general discussion that visited various challenges in assessment, particularly in teaching and assessing ''process'' rather than factual knowledge.   Moss (2001)  also has an excellent discussion of this challenge.  We discussed some unusual examples of assessment, such as Lee Sheldon's XP based grading system, motivated by World Of Warcraft.

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