Week Two of ECS 410

This week centered around assessment vs. evaluation. In the readings I learned that assessment is used as a way of gathering information about students learning that informs our teaching. Whereas evaluation is when we decide whether or not students have learned what they needed to learn and how well they have learned it. As third year education students we are told time and time again that we need to teach differently then how we were taught. Meaning we cannot determine a students learning based solely on a final unit test or final exam. Though we can still use those, there needs to be assessment going on in between. In an article by Thomas R. Guskey, called How Classroom Assessments Improve Learning, he says “Assessments can be a vital component in our efforts to improve education.” I believe that if we as teachers are assessing our students, then we will have a better understanding of where they are at in their learning, and from that assessment we can make any necessary changes in our instruction techniques.

In class and in the article by Guskey, I learned about giving students second chances. When giving a test we should allow our students to improve upon their grade. If we give a test and then do not look at that material till the end of the semester, when students have a final exam, how will students remember why or where they went wrong. Whether we allow students to rewrite exams or we correct certain parts of the exam as a class, we are allowing students to see where they can improve and give them the chance to not be stuck with a lower grade then what they could have achieved. I also believe that as teachers we need to look at exams and see if there is a pattern occurring among all of the students. If this is the case then we need to do some self-reflection and try and figure out how we could have improved our instruction.

In the assigned reading it talked a lot about assessment FOR learning, which involves learners receiving a considerable amount of descriptive feedback during their learning. Dr. Anne Davies says, “To ensure success for all learners, especially those who struggle, students need to know what they already know, what needs to be learned and what success looks like….In order to communicate learning meaningfully to a variety of stakeholders, teachers involve students in collecting and organizing a broad range of evidence or proof of learning. Further, as teachers review evidence of learning from three different sources (observations of students engaged in learning, conversations with students about their learning, and reviewing their products (i.e. notebooks, tests, quizzes, projects, assignments, electronic data), they compare each student’s learning not to other students but to the learning destination. This requires that teachers not only understand what students need to know and do but that they understand the level of quality appropriate for the course or grade level.” (http://annedavies.com/assessment_for_learning_wafl.html). A lot of the times students will know what will work best for them, so as Dr. Davies mentioned students need to be aware of what they know and what they still have to learn. As a teacher it is our responsibility to complete the necessary assessment and provide tools for students to be able to discover this. It is also crucial that we understand who are learners are, we can learn about different strategies for assessment, but until we discover who we are working for, we will not know what will work best. Because of this I think the activity that we worked on in class, where we researched different diagnostic assessment tools, is very useful. By becoming more versed in strategies and tools we will be better prepared for different learners within our classroom and we will have tools to provide them with useful assessment techniques.

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