Thursday, January 22, 2015

Some Traditions, Like Assessment, Need Revisited

I strongly believe that most of the success I have had in teaching #EFL in China has come from first questioning traditional methods, management, and ways of communication. Next I would learn about their origin and from there successfully move past them and complete plans of action. It also helps that my students agree since it is the 21st century (or "The Internet Age," as one said), and they think ways of learning should be altered. Assessment 2.0 is no different, no matter where in the world Carmen Sandiego is.
When there is a huge, ongoing problem, one has to wonder what the deeper issue is. In the first page of Assessment 3.0, Mark Barnes touches on what I think is the root reason why Assessment 2.0 is still happening.
For more than a decade as a classroom teacher, I placed number and letter grades on my students' papers and projects...Why did I treat my students' hard work with such disregard? The answer is simple, if sad. I didn't know any better; that's the way I'd always done it, and I wasn't aware of another way. Students had to be graded, and this occurred with points, percentages, and letters.
We as teachers sometimes don't know any better. And even worse, we haven't taken the next step to critically think and question it. This questioning is not that of an angry child drilling his father of why things should happen the way they do. It would be more of 1) examine the method being used, 2) research to learn more about it, and lastly 3) tweak it however necessary or do a 180 with it. Whatever the course, a step has to be taken.

Barnes then moves on to how these numbers and percentages are compiled to make up a GPA. And the GPA could very well be the fruit in the garden that should not be eaten while the SAT is seemingly as deadly. Why? I'm a prime example. In high school, I received As, Bs, and the occasional C. How? I'll admit; by conforming and getting by. Come SAT time, my score ended up a 1040/1600. Believe me, I was quite surprised when Indiana Wesleyan University called to tell me I had been accepted.

Neither score, I believe, displayed what I was capable of (I still don't know that either, ha). Speaking of the SAT, in Sir Ken Robinson's The Element, he explains how the creator of the test only a few years after inventing it changed his mind and didn't think universities such as Harvard should be administering it anymore. There are certainly some historical events within education that every teacher should know but for some reason they go unmentioned.

This was just the tip of the iceberg, folks. By the looks of it, the chapters in Assessment 3.0 aren't long, but I can tell you already there's going to be vital information we all need to know in order to move forward. In fact, chapter 1 already is making me contemplate changes I could try to make next semester to #ChangeTheWorld in my classes.

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