How on earth should we use our assessment results?

What is the point of assessing our students if we don’t apply what we gain effectively? If our students don’t perceive the assessments as worth while, can the results even be trusted as an accurate representation of their understanding?

histogram with Gaussian distribution on blackboard

In Formative Assessment:The Driving Force Behind Differentiation, they discuss how formative assessments are particularly effective at the end of class. I can attest as a student that the last 5 minutes of class are generally spent thinking about what is next in the day. It is difficult to focus when we are excited to go to lunch, or meet up with friends, or go home. I like how the article said that this time is best spent having a time of reflection of the material. The article also discusses that the assessments need not be used to grade the students success, but rather to help shape it. When asked the question how should we use our assessment results, the answer should always be whatever use benefits the students the most. They are called formative assessments because they should be, first and foremost, used to help format the rest of instruction.

An article I found in Forbes Magazine Online discussed how some teachers are using technology and games as formative assessments. As Forbes does best, the article then skipped over the efficiency of this assessment technique and discussed more political and economic implications. They discussed some fears that corporate America may take technology too far and replace teachers with robots, so clearly they completely missed the mark of having a valuable discussion on assessment. However, the article at the very end did make a comment that there is some evidence to support that game based learning is an effective tool for assessment. One thing that I did glean from the article is that the important thing is not what tool we decide to use as assessment, but rather what we choose to do with the results. So how should we use those results to ensure that our lesson plans are fitting our students needs?

Two important things that are discussed in Chapter 2 of Classroom Instruction that Works are reinforcing effort and providing recognition. They claim that these two things will affect a student’s

  • Self Efficacy: beliefs about one’s competency
  • Control Beliefs: beliefs about one’s ability to influence what is happening or what will happen
  • Intrinsic motivation: motivation that comes from an individual’s desire for self-satisfaction or pleasure in completing the task rather than from an external source, such as a reward.
  • Task Value: beliefs about reasons for doing a task

Our assessment results should aid us in figuring out what content is being understood, where our students are starting, and what teaching styles are most effective to our students. Formative assessments help us continually evolve our classroom to constantly being more effective and successful, but only if we apply them properly. Once we have the information we need from the assessment it is our responsibility to format our lessons accordingly. In addition, we should also use the results to help encourage and reward our students, as well as challenge and push them to further success. So much of learning can be attributed to whether or not teacher’s create an environment where success is attainable and valued, and if we use our assessments to continually foster this environment our students will follow suit.

chalk stairs


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