Friday, 24 April 2015

Assessment: Inquiry's Boogeyman

When something is difficult or outside of our comfort zone, we sometimes look for a reason not to do it. A barrier, an excuse or boogeyman. These barriers are real but sometimes they are self-imposed or misinterpreted and we perpetuate them to save us from having to change. Student inquiry is no different.

Our assessment practices can sometimes stifle innovation and keep us from embracing student inquiry. When people talk about the reasons why student inquiry won't work, they often point the finger at assessment. They don't have a problem with the self-directed learning or inquiry, their difficulty is with how they assess it. 

Applying traditional assessment techniques to student inquiry can be difficult, if not counterproductive. Assessment with static criteria and an emphasis on final answers and finished products doesn't support the learner who is involved in inquiry based learning. A balanced approach of triangulated assessment which focuses on feedback based on observations and conversations better supports the learner through the inquiry process. We get more of what we value and celebrate. A student focused on the final product or grade is less likely to take chances or create something new. 

So, how do we help students, teachers and parents to see that the assessment data collected from observations and conversations is more valuable to students when given during the learning process as feedback rather than at the end as a grade?

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree with this approach. My biggest challenge is how to keep/maintain records of the conversations I've had with each of my students. Looking for a easy way to manage & maintain this.