09 June 2010

summer? i don't need no stinking summer!

I am already a week into summer and here I sit doing homework. (Well, I should be doing homework, I'm writing instead.) So far, I've cooked, mowed, and attended class; and now homework. Some summer! Oh well, its all by choice and will no doubt pay off someday.

Tonight begins what from outside appearances looks to be the most challenging (and rewarding) class yet: Assessment. I've just finished the "confidence questionnaire" and boy do I not feel too good about my practice. On the other hand, if I felt good about everything I do, there would be no need to take the class, would there?

Goals for this class for me: (my learning objectives)

  1. Improve my ability to communicate to students what I hope they learn. (This is the only area I have any confidence at all.)

  2. Build my skill at using different types of assessment styles for different learning objectives.

  3. Increase my confidence at designing and building assessments.

  4. Make a commitment to using rubrics on every project/paper next year.

  5. And finally, increase my skill to balance assessment for learning vs. assessment of learning. (I remember Dr. Winslow saying that "Tests should be a learning experience." I like the idea, but I don't think it translates into my practice very well.)

Assessment is the area of teaching in which I feel I am weakest. So, as I've watched this module draw nearer and nearer, my level of fear and trepidation has increased proportionally. Okay, maybe fear is too strong a word. I guess I'm just afraid that I'll have to go into class and tell everything I know about assessment right off the bat and then we'll have like 3 hours, 59 minutes, and 45 seconds left in class. Yes, it's a 4 hour class!

On that note, I'll go ahead and write my working definition of classroom assessment: (this shouldn't take long...)

Classroom assessment is the way in which students know whether or not (and to what level) they have learned material related to a particular subject matter. This includes observation/communication by the teacher, classroom discussion (either asynchronous or synchronous), drawings (such as graphs or diagrams), self assessment, practicums (labs), and formal written assessments. These assessments should be spread throughout the time period of the subject matter and should guide all activities and pacing of the unit. Self assessment (reflection) is especially important for students. I prefer to allow/encourage discussion on this kind of assessment with peers in the form of a blog or discussion board.

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