Monthly Archives: October 2014

Thoughts on 3C/Personal Preferences

After having enriched myself with so much information regarding the different kinds of assessments and their advantages and disadvantages, I can’t help but go back down memory lane and recall my own experiences as a student and how I prepared myself each and every time I was to take those ‘tests’.

Normally, majority of our tests came in the traditional form wherein we were given multiple- choice type of tests, true or false, enumeration, matching- type and others. The performance- based tests however were mostly given by our non- academic subjects ( except for Science) like Physical Education (PE), Home Economics and Livelihood Education (HELE) and Music. I still remember that, part of my preparation then for traditional tests was that I jot down notes as I make my reviewer and I found that to be quite effective as it was relatively easy to tap on my memory. Needless to say, memorization played an important factor on how I was able to get decent grades. However, memorization is not my number one choice when it comes to approaches or methods when reviewing for major exams as I am aware that at times anxiety can lead to mental- block. Quite frankly, I realized that I felt more comfortable doing alternative or authentic assessments. With alternative assessments, I have learned to follow procedures and come up with fruitful results like in cooking, sewing and baking or when I did experiments that gave sound conclusions to theories that started off only as hypotheses. I was also able to express my thoughts and ideas through skits, oral reports and presentations which I enjoyed doing the most as I had never been the shy type.

And, now that I have been made aware of the differences as well as the pros and cons of traditional and authentic assessments, I believe that educators must find a balance in the use of both. I say this because I believe that no single type of assessment can be the absolute measure of one’s knowledge and skill. Apart from this, we may look at things in this perspective, that when traditional assessments fail or are found to be ‘lacking in its effectiveness’ in certain aspects, then educators must rely on authentic assessments to be the alternative tool in measuring what needs to be measured ( and vice- versa). Therefore, they must complement each other rather than compete with one another. Besides, they share the same end goal, and that is, to improve both teaching and learning.

Thoughts on 3B

I find it interesting and quite refreshing to know that there is such a term as student- generated assessments. It is no surprise that the traditional practice in schools is that, educators are responsible in coming up with different types of assessments to use as a measure for students’ learning outcomes. Teachers are always asked to incorporate the kinds of tests ( formative assessments) that they will use in each of their lessons as they come up with their lesson plans. These assessments will then be used as a collection of evidences that allow them to come up with their summative scores at the end of each grading period.

After having spent many, many years in school, I could not quite remember as to how many times a teacher has asked me to think of ways on how I wish to be evaluated. Thus, I agree with what I read in one of the references, that student- generated assessments are indeed the most underutilized type of assessment. I wonder why. I mean, after having learned that each individual is a unique learner and that we have different ways in obtaining and demonstrating our knowledge and skills, why then are we not “consulted” as to how we want to be tested or assessed? Why do we depend largely on the kind of assessments that our teachers give us? Why can we not have 50% of our summative score taken from our preferred assessment and the other 50% from the assessments prepared by our teachers? If we claim that students learn and demonstrate knowledge and skills differently, then, is the aforementioned method not a more accurate basis to get our summative scores?

As a future educator, I am very much intrigued as to how I can incorporate student- generated assessments to obtain more acceptable summative scores for each of my students. I would like to be the kind of teacher, who would get out of her way to know how each of my students can best showcase their learning abilities. Like for instance, a student who loves to dance will not be obligated to write an essay regarding a topic on one’s love for another, but would instead be encouraged to demonstrate said topic through an interpretative dance, a painter through his creation of a mural or a math wizard to come up with a mathematical equation to demonstrate his understanding of love, just like in one of the series of Bones ( a US television show). Of course, these student- generated assessments will not be the sole source of their summative scores, but, with the incorporation of this kind of assessment together with the two others, obtrusive and unobtrusive assessments, I can at least say that I have given my students equal opportunities to display their knowledge and skills and that they will not make any claim that their intelligences were not fully maximized or utilized because opportunities given them were limited.

Thoughts on 3A

a) How do you decide when to use formal or informal assessments? How is assessment done in informal ways?

Formal assessments may be used when your objective is to accurately identify whether an individual’s performance can outdo that of his peers or to identify comparable strengths and weaknesses with peers, whereas, informal assessments may be used if the objective is to measure an individual’s ability against a pre-established criterion to indicate how well he knows the specific content domain that is covered by the test.

There are several methods by which informal assessments can be done. They are as follows:
1. Observation- enables teachers to identify children’s behavior and document performance before making decisions. This may be done by looking/ watching children in a systematic way.
2. Anecdotal record- provides insight into a particular behavior and may be a basis for planning a specific teaching strategy. Teachers can give a brief written description of student behavior at one time.
3. Running Record- helps obtain a more detailed insight into a behavior over a period of time. Teachers may focus on a sequence of events that occurs over time.
4. Event Sampling- helps identify when a child displays particular behavior and helps answer the question, ” Does the child do something all the time or just at certain times and events?”. Teachers may record particular events or behaviors at specific time intervals.
5. Rating Scale- enables teachers to record data when children are observed. Teachers may have a list of descriptors for a set of behaviors.
6. Checklist- enables teachers to observe easily and check off what children know and are able to do
7. Work Sample- provides concrete sample of learning and can show growth and achievement over time
8. Portfolio- provides documentation of a child’s achievement in specific areas over time and can include test scores, writing etc. Teachers may collect sample works of children.
9. Interview- allows children to explain behavior, work samples or particular answers. Teachers may engage children in discussion through questions.

b) What are some characteristics of good formal assessments? …of good informal assessments?

Some characteristics of formal assessments are:
a. They are data- driven.
b. They usually produce a written document such as a paper or test.
c. They usually receive a numerical score or grade.
d. They often contribute to a student’s final grade for a unit or course of study.

Some characteristics of informal assessments are:
a. They are unplanned.
b. They have no strict rules for administration.
c. They have no strict rules for interpretation.
d. They rely on the teacher’s judgement.
e. They are subject to modification during testing.

c) When are informal assessments useful (versus formal assessments)? How valuable are informal assessments? Can informal assessments be good ”replacements” for formal assessments?

I find that at times, informal assessments can be a better measure of one’s true skills or abilities as they have no need for a lot of planning, instead, data is received from students immediately and then planning comes afterwards. For example, after reading a story, a teacher may ask questions regarding what has been read. Those students who are able to answer the questions correctly show a clear sign of good comprehension. From there, the teacher may devise other plans on how she may get the rest of the students to understand the same story that was read. It is for this reason that I find informal assessments to be valuable as they can immediately indicate what students can actually do or perform.

Having said that though, I do not feel that an informal assessment should serve as a replacement for formal assessments. I say this because, formal assessments are useful tools that provide concrete and measurable evidences of learning especially when these assessments are constructed flawlessly. They have the ability to provide accurate data through the use of written documents ( paper or test results) that help determine one’s overall achievement and to compare that person’s achievement against others of the same age or grade.

d) How would reflective teaching skills enhance the effectiveness of informal assessment in facilitating teaching-learning? (What does it mean to reflect about teaching?)

Reflective teaching is a process in which a teacher examines her teaching practices/ strategies to determine how she may improve or modify these practices for better student learning outcomes. It is through this process that a teacher can reflect on whether her methods agree with what her students need. As teachers, it is our responsibility to not only teach but to identify how each of our students can best learn from us. We have to not only be concerned about “what” we teach them but to also be aware of “how” they can best learn from us.

References:
Information taken from the following websites:

http://www.education.com/reference/article/informal-methods-assessment/
http://www.slideshare.net/mobile/MSiiM/lang-ass-formal-informal
http://education-portal.com/academy/lesson/what-is-reflective-teaching-definition-methods-quiz.html#lesson

No reason to fail

I’d have to admit that I was a bit taken aback when I learned that we are given unlimited attempts to do the quiz. I was of course happy that it was the case thinking that it will give me more chances to check on my learning without having to be so conscious of failing. During my first attempt, what I did was I answered the questions based on my recollection of the items that I came across with during my reading. There were times that I had to look at my notes for reassurance especially when it came to the other half of the test which I answered quite giddily knowing that it was about Bloom’s Taxonomy. I sort of wanted to see how I’d fair in the test and got a bit excited that I answered hastily. Also, I felt less stressed to be performing excellently the first time because of the unlimited opportunities given us. With that said, I got an 8 out of 15. Then knowing that I didn’t get a perfect score, I immediately tried it again, just to see what I’ll get next and when my score got lower by one point, that’s when I realized that I had to review my lessons on Bloom’s Taxonomy before going on my third attempt. It also helped that there was the review button which allowed me to reflect on my answers and use it as a basis to compare the information that I have on my notes.

On the question whether the review button was accidental or intentional, I’d say that it is the latter. Although, I personally didn’t see that as an opportunity to cheat. Instead, I saw it as a tool that helped me reaffirm that I was on the right track. Of course, I can’t say that I am an ideal student and that I am not prone to temptations, however, I personally feel that having those features in the quiz made it appear less stressful and more fun to learn. If anything, it made me more responsible with how I did the quiz knowing that the burden of being stressed over the quiz was removed out of the equation. Therefore, I had no excuses to do poorly on the quiz as I was aware that I have already been given too much leeway and that failing is just not acceptable.

Assessment, a MUST for everyone!

Whether we want to admit or not, assessments are and will always be a part of our learning experience and growth. Beginning from when we were babies, our parents used methods of assessments to make inferences on whether our learning has progressed from one level to another. From saying our first words to identifying different colors and reading letters from the alphabet out loud, our parents made sure that they ‘test’ us on our acquired knowledge, and, I say that it is a good thing. Now that I am a parent, myself, I value these assessments for pretty much the same reason that they did. Assessments, in its many forms, allow me to ascertain my daughter’s progress in learning. I remember during her first day in school at age 3, the teacher used a carved block of wooden board to see if she was capable of identifying different shapes by putting the right pieces ( that were piled randomly on the side) onto the board. As soon as my daughter completed the test, she moved on to having her identify colors, count numbers from 1-10 and so on and so forth. It was after these assessments, that she was able to assure us of her readiness for school, as well as the intended program, despite her young age.

Year after year, my daughter continues to acquire more knowledge and together with that, she is given more types of tests and assessments (aptitude, achievement, performance) with the objective of measuring how much she has grown intellectually and emotionally. Yes, even emotionally. Let us not forget that schools not only prepare kids academically, but they also teach them on how to deal with others through group performance tasks that are not only meant to measure the end- product of what was taught, but also serve as a good teaching scenario of how each child should interact with one another as they deliver what is asked of them.

I’d have to say that the same is true in my case. These assessments like group projects, buddy-works and others have helped me immensely in terms of how I deal with people on a daily basis, especially when I was still a trainer/communication coach. I would not have been effective at my job in relating with others if it were not for the different experiences I had in high school and college, and for that, I am very thankful to my teachers. They have made sure that not only did they supply me with knowledge, but more importantly, they’ve equipped me with an important tool that I was able to successfully use in the ‘real world’. In conclusion, I believe that with the right objectives and well- thought off activities that are aligned with those objectives, educators should persist in providing assessments to help individuals put to application their knowledge and skills into real- life everyday scenarios.