Effect of Assessment on the Students’ Attitudes towards Learning

d594f66ed4050b75adade355051d9482d213dbfe_large

http://www.fotosearch.com/UNQ557/u13901313/

test-takingbig2

teachers.egfi-k12.org/is-there-an-ap-overload/

These are based on my personal observations about how my own kids and their classmates react to different types of assessment.

Most students hate tests, but the truth is, the only time they really study is when there’s a fast approaching test. They cram, they study, and I guess, the result is superficial learning. Low level cognitive skills (knowledge/comprehension/recall) are tapped, but information, after the exam, usually evaporates.

What I’m sure of – is that students hate the fact that they are often judged based on their grades, and hence they study to get good grades, to fulfill school requirements, to please parents, to pass and be promoted to the next grade or year level. If these factors comprise the motivation to go to school, if assessments will solely or mostly be used for assigning grades, then we’ll have unhappy unmotivated students.

What makes the students want to go to school or attend classes? Well, aside from seeing friends and crushes as top reasons, I see them enjoy classes with teachers who give interesting, challenging, and fun instructional/assessment activities (mostly informal-formative-alternative assessments like role plays, stage plays, experiments, field work, etc.).  If the teacher can relate well with students, understand how they are in their learning, and adjust his/her teaching according to what they appreciate, the kids are motivated more to learn and demonstrate their learning in meaningful ways.

Just last night, I saw a Facebook post from my son’s Statistics teacher, asking his students if they think they should continue doing the assessment game they did the previous school year. The answer from all students was a resounding “Yes.” Teachers can now use social media to get feedback from students. Teachers who consider their students’ needs and preferences, and adjust their methods of teaching accordingly produce happy motivated students – willing to learn best what they are supposed to learn. Even if the content is hard (like higher Mathematics), if the teacher is supportive, and employs appropriate instructional and assessment activities suited for his/her students, the kids give their best effort to succeed in learning.

I also notice that assessment and instructional activities that are directly relevant to students also attract students to learning; those that they think are irrelevant are the lessons they ignore most.

Last school year, some of my son’s classmates felt that Social Science’s World History was irrelevant, so, they chose to ignore it, or they were forced to just comply with the subject requirements. Then the original teacher took a leave and was replaced by a new teacher who made World History relevant and interesting for the students. As the new teacher employed appropriate and fun assessment activities, incorporated with instruction, I heard a lot of good feedback from my son and his classmates. As expected, students started to participate in class activities and started to love World History! Not only that, students started to love their new teacher! (This truly happened in a Grade 8 class.)

It’s obvious that when activities are interesting and fun, especially when it involves collaborative work (like class projects, group presentations, stage plays, experiments and other authentic activities), students need not be prompted to do what they need to do. They comply with requirements eagerly, practice and give their best performance. If they like what the teacher is asking them to do, they will do it enthusiastically, and most likely produce a good output.

Students tend to enjoy most of the informal, formative and alternative assessments and get anxious about the high stakes formal, traditional and summative tests that oftentimes define who they are as students. However, they are aware that they need all these assessments for their own improvement.

 The bottom line, I guess, is that our students need all these types of assessments, and that teachers should just make learning and assessment as enjoyable and as interesting as possible.

Teachers and Students as Partners

learnsystem2-664x600

http://www.movingwithmath.com/learning-system/

When teachers and students join forces in the assessment process, teachers become excellent in their teaching and students become excellent in their learning!

Both parties grow in the teaching-learning process.  The teachers become better educators as they adjust instruction according to their students’ needs and employ more effective teaching techniques, while the students become more engaged in their learning and adopt more powerful learning strategies. As teachers use a combination of the different types of assessments, they get to know their students well and get a total picture of where and how they are in their learning. They get to reflect and answer:

  • Am I teaching what I’m supposed to be teaching? Do I equip myself to become competent in my field?
  • Are my students learning what they’re supposed to be learning?
  • Are my instructional tools and materials effective?
  • Are my teaching strategies and instructional methods effective?
  • Who, among my students, are struggling and need help?
  • Who, among my students, are advanced and need more challenging learning tasks?
  • What are my students’ individual learning needs and preferences? How can I effectively respond to them?
  • What else can I do to help them excel? How can I empower them to become successful learners?

When a teacher does not only teach but teaches with a teacher’s heart, students respond brilliantly, and powerful learning outcomes are attained. The students are encouraged to reflect on their own learning, strategize, and adjust their learning styles to achieve their goals. 

When teachers and students join forces in the assessment process, mighty learning goals are achieved!

Personal Experience as Reflective Parent-Teacher:

I personally tutor all my kids.  And I see how each of them learns best. I also see what type of assessment (informal) works best for each of them, and so I adjust my tutoring and assessment strategies accordingly. With my six year old, assessment games and use of play materials work best. For example, I tested his proficiency in addition and subtraction of money by playing “buying and selling game.” As the buyer, he had to count his play money and use it for buying items. As the seller, he had to count money and give me correct change for the items I bought.

At first I gave him paper and pen exercises (traditional) about this lesson, and it was harder to get him to sit and do the seat work. But with the games, he begged for more! Teaching and testing him about the lesson on money through games (incorporating assessment with instruction) was not only fun for both of us, it also achieved the desired learning outcome. 🙂