Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Assessment in the Partnering Pedagogy

     In his book, Teaching Digital Natives, author Marc Prensky ends with a chapter on assessment, something all teachers struggle with because it is how we find out whether or not our students "get it."  Prensky feels that the current trend is to assess to find out where a student stands in relationship to other students, where do they fall along that Bell curve.  However, the author feels that assessment should, instead, be used for the student's good to ascertain whether or not they are learning or improving much needed skills.

    Prensky offers many different types of assessment for teachers to try which could possibly be better tools in determining whether or not students are, in fact, learning and progressing.  Some of these include peer assessment, real-world assessment, and self assessment.  For a teacher like myself, who does indeed find safety in formal, summative assessments, these types of "grading" leave me with one question:   Do they really measure a student's knowledge?  I will admit that moving away from a "unit test" to find out if my students are learning the concepts I am teaching is a scary venture for me.  For this to work, teachers, students, and parents will have to buy into the value of these types of assessments, and fully participate in their creation and implementation.  Given the current STAAR testing in Texas, I am not sure how a non-summative assessment system will prepare students for what they need to know to master the state's tests.

     One aspect that Prensky carries into this chapter that is maintained throughout his book is the teacher and students as "partners."  He sees this even more so in relationship to assessment. He continually stresses the need for "feedback" where assessment is involved.  Often on tests, the only feedback students get is a red X that says the answer is wrong.  There is no discussion or contact with the teacher to help the student understand how to improve or to find out what the correct answer is.

     Prensky also delves into assessing teachers', administrators' parents', schools', nation's, and the world's progress.  Most of what he writes about centers around the changing environment in education and how it is necessary for all involved to move forward towards a "partnering" framework for the betterment of our students.

     I found what the author had to say very enlightening, yet for me, a bit difficult to grasp how I would actually go about implementing the types of assessment he discusses.  I would definitely need to see these types of assessment in action in other classrooms in order to better understand how they are really evaluating the knowledge our students have of the concepts they are being taught.

1 comment:

  1. I can completely understand your reluctance to give up the safety of standard assessment for students. My students while working on class documentaries (an assessment) still had to take a "regular" test.

    I was thrilled to see the section of the test that was covered the information they were working with for their documentaries was where they scored the highest. So maybe, they get it with out me having to make review sheets. It feels really liberating that they can get it with out me giving "it" to them.