Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Canadian WebCT Conference - Alternative Assessment

This is the second pre-conference session that I have today - and the last because I've got a meeting in the afternoon. Again, these sessions are interesting not as much for what they have to say, but to watch the other users in the session. Not to brag, but knowing many of the presenters, they often kid that I should be giving the presentation. This one on alternative strategies for assessment. There is always a new way to assess student work so with any luck I'll find some new ideas as well - yes I am blogging this session as it goes along. Noticing one thing off the bat is that with the majority of the audience not having an education background, the start of the session covers the basic - what is assessment and why is it done - a massive philosophical issue in education (beyond assigning grades, assessment is also an esseantial means for evaluation of student, instructor and course performance, pacing and providing feedback and reasons for interacting with materials). The session encourged the use of both low and high stakes assessment. Something that I personally prefer formative and low stakes assessment because it is more authentic as it mitigates many additional factors. The trick to my mind is to ensure that they don't know that they are being assessed. I don't mean to spring a quiz on them, but rather work it in as a form of participation mark where things are always bubbling along and the process becomes more important as it can show progress. Often low stakes assessments will allow students to take more risks. High stakes are often better for the instructor and can pinpoint weakness. Students tend to value high stakes assignments and see it as a terminal event - a catch 22 as there is often very little transfer of knowledge. Maureen (the presenter) also explored formative and summative assessments - things that many of the people in the room (again, not being from education per se) seemed to find as being ground breaking, but then seemed to realize tht they had already done many of these things without thinking about what they are - this should happen as these people are self selected for being here more often than not. As the session would up to the half way point, the most important part about assessment came up - you have to plan the assessments so that they provide results that are useful for both students and instructors. One thing to consider is also how to get the marking for all this assessment done - selective release, group work/assessment, automated marking are all good ideas. Technorati Tags: