Analysis of student performance data can give a preview of what students have understood, what they ought to understand and, what should be done to fulfill their academic requirements. Research has shown that incorporating assessment data in the teaching design leads to enhanced student performances. Rick Stiggins, an expert on classroom assessments, suggests that teachers should have a more balanced approach and not only do assessment of learning but also use assessments for learning purposes. When provided with appropriate analysis of data, teachers can make informed decisions that positively influence student results. In short, in education, information speaks volumes and can go a long way in in improving the teaching-learning process.
In the recent times, in Indian education system, there has been emphasis on conducting formative assessments. Performance based learning and assessments are finding place in the curriculum design of a lot more schools than ever before. Assessment now serve purposes bigger than that of a catalyst in school improvements. For some educators, data serves large purposes and is a tool using which everyone and every effort is being judged.
The key here is not letting go of data as an instruction tool but accepting the limits of any assessment, especially in the form of curriculum and teaching designs. This post attempts at helping one to identify the ways in which assessments can interfere with teaching and learning.1. Bad assessments – Assessments that mostly test procedural knowledge and are low on uncovering the conceptual understanding of students, are not helpful. In fact they serve as barriers to the learning process. Furthermore, if the interpretations of the results made are incorrect, then it can be a recipe for disaster and leads to an annoying learning experience for the student.
2. Poor timing – Students struggle with tests for any number of reasons that have nothing to do with content knowledge, from anxiety to simply having a bad day. Even the best assessment conducted at a wrong time is a bad assessment. Ideally each student must get a completely personalized assessment pathway. Given a rigid curriculum, the teachers find it very challenging to plan instruction, conduct assessments, analyse data and revise instruction.
3. Lack of diversity in data sources – Each test gives a snapshot of what a student seems to understand. In order to get a complete view of understanding levels of students, it is necessary to have diverse ways of collecting data. The data must come from diverse sources like tests, quiz, projects, peer-assessments, self-assessments, standardized tests, etc.
An add-on to this problem is the rigid curriculum of schools. The assessments can immediately address students learning needs only when the curriculum is conducive to absorbing and using the data. And at times, the problem can be data itself. Merely having more data is not enough.
By Syeda Akbar – Educational Specialist
(Member of Test Development Team)
Latest posts by Syeda Akbar (see all)
- Can assessments hinder teaching? - July 7, 2015
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