In part 2 of this blog we discussed the accuracy and payoff of using alternative assessments in a MakerEd context. In this blog we will get down to business looking at how to use self-assessment in real world project context. Nina Rodriguez, the coordinator of the Innovation and Design Lab at Downtown College Prep (San Jose), will be joining this conversation to talk about examples of self-assessment used in her classrooms.
In part one of this blog, we discussed what self-assessment is, and the relevance of using alternative assessments in your MakerEd program or school wishing to usher in more student choice into the curriculum. In this blog, we will do a shallow review of what has been written about self-assessments. This will include work being done on the frontlines by teachers (blogs and articles), as well as published studies from academia about the efficacy of self-assessment. We will focus our discussion of efficacy on two parameters, accuracy and return for time invested.
The purpose of teacher driven assessment is to measure whether a student is ready to move on to the next topic in a given curriculum. Often this translates to the next chapter of a text book. If the student passes the teacher’s assessment, the next step in her education is given to her in lockstep manner. This approach to learning and assessment, while comfortably quantifiable, unfortunately fails to approach the full spectrum of learning that modern day education has to offer children and adults. Throw MakerEd spaces into the mix, and you have a recipe for a revolution in assessment, beginning with handing the right and responsibility of assessment, over to our students.
Many argue that grades, especially those based on standardized tests, are limited in the information they provide about a student as a learner. Due to their “snapshot” nature, grades fail to represent a student’s growth over time. In addition, grades tend to be given by a teacher, excluding a student from the assessment process in a manner that can be detrimental to the student’s learning, engagement, willingness to take risks and even self-esteem. The ethical issues of grades aside, summative grades fail to represent the kind of work students do in a Maker Ed. program (STEAM programs in educational settings that employ making or hands on construction). One of the obvious forms of alternative assessment that makers can use to demonstrate competence and growth, is the portfolio. Below is a summary of what I have learned about portfolios in the arts and engineering fields, as well as my experience using portfolios for a 6th grade science course.
Those working in a makered program, know this kind of work/learning is good for kids, as well as communities and have the energy to fight to keep their programs alive. To support these teachers and to keep makered programs sustainable, i.e. not let them suffer the fate of previous progressive education movements labeled as lacking rigor, we need to be thinking about assessment and we need to be thinking about the following kinds of assessment:
- Assessments used by students for real learning
- Assessments used by high schools and colleges for enrollment decisions
- Assessments used by a community norm system to establish authority or job readiness (badge or certification system)
- Assessments used to inform the efficacy of a maker program (research)
I wondered if students could be keeping a better track record of how the comments and feedback they got from their peers was reflected in their iteration process or growth as a student. That way, we could all see the value of the process.