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Ever seen a student in class who was encouraged no end, and they responded to the encouragement by working harder, then wondered why they didn’t pass the exam? Yes, that’s a common error where too much positivity gives students false hope. So balancing feedback, assessment and encouragement is almost an art-form in itself. Some teachers are brilliant at it, and some just don’t get it, but it is the student who has to monitor this as well.
So how do teachers assess now? It comes in all forms:
- Internal assessment
- One to one conferencing
- Peer assessment
…and let’s look at a few complications with these forms of assessment:
- Different beliefs of what is good
- Different scaling systems
- Different course content for similar courses
- Classroom based assessment relative only to that class not the age or subject as a whole
- Positivity and encouragement confused as quality performance
- Teacher enthusiasm confused with quality performance
I could go on…. but for many students deciphering which is worthwhile, useless or downright flattery or abuse…is easy, for others it’s very difficult.
Common solutions for students to use to help deciphering teacher assessment:
For those who are still unsure of whether their assessment is accurate or not, here are a few things to bear in mind:
- Test results:
These are conducted in the class on material you have been studying recently
- Do you feel the questions asked in the test did accurately reflect what you studied
- Do you feel the teacher gave you suitable revision exercises that reflect the test questions
- When you completed the exam, did you feel confident that you were able to assess the result generally e.g. if you feel you failed, you failed, if you feel you got top marks you got top marks, if you feel you just scraped through, did you just scrape through.
- Exam results:
These are usually end of semester exams that cover a large range of material.
- Do you feel the exam covered the range of material covered in the semester
- Do you feel the exam asked questions in a variety of ways in order to see if you understand the material in sometimes an unusual context
- When you received your result, do you feel this is a true reflection of your understanding of this topic
- Internal Assessment:
These marks are usually based on assignment completion and general practical performance in class.
- Were the instruction for the assignment clear and easy to understand
- Did the teacher clearly mark and comment on your assignment, that reflected true points to consider
- Was the teacher able to give you productive feedback on an ongoing basis that helped you in your practical sessions.
- One to one conferencing
Conducted by teacher and student on performance of the student either in a test, internal assignment or a practical component.
- Did the teacher schedule a specific time for your one to one conferencing
- Did the teacher inform all students on what the conferencing would involve and how it would be conducted
- Did the teacher make you feel comfortable with the feedback
- Did the teacher ask you the student to provide some insight into your own progress
- Did the teacher use what you said about your own assessment to align it with his/her assessment
- Did the teacher give you something to take away to think about
- Peer assessment:
A mutual observational assessment whereby you and another colleague observe and review each other’s work performance
- Did the teacher give you a clear outline of qualitative and/or quantitative measures to look for in your peer
- Did the teacher give you a clear way to approach the topic of peer observation content
- Were you paired up with someone who’s experience is similar to yours
- Did you feel you learned something from your peer observation and they learned something from you.
- Do you feel the person gave a clear response based on the criteria above.
- Did you take the opportunity to speak professionally and casually with your partner so that you could both also understand how peer observations can be beneficial for each of you.
- What this peer observation task one of a range of assessments used in your learning.
- Did the results of the peer observation reflect favourably with the other tests you have done in the same class. If not, was there a means by which you could discuss this with your peer and teacher.
So here we have a few ways to think. Assessment should never be a one way thing, there are two people or more involved in this process and all should be contributing.
Lastly – being able to be honest with yourself and gauge the result with the expectation is always the key. If your expectation is way off the overall result – you need to talk to someone about it, either your teacher or your head of department, there will be something else to be learned here. And demand the understanding, don’t just let the teacher brush it under the carpet…you deserve the truth.
Hope this is helpful for all students and teachers.