Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Assessment and evaluation of learning

I have just started another paper called Assessing and Evaluating for Learning, which is part of the Otago Polytechnic Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Learning and Teaching.

What is assessment about?
During the years I taught in the midwifery program (undergraduate and postgraduate) I was involved in assessing theoretical knowledge, practical application and clinical skills. Assessment was driven by course requirements, which themselves have been driven by midwifery professional standards and competencies.

In the back of my mind has been the mantra of not just 'producing' a student who is knowledgeable, but also a student who is 'safe'...one that will 'harm' a mother and/or baby in her care. I have asked myself at times of assessment..."would I want this student looking after my daughter and grandchild?".

So assessment has been a way of ensuring we produce safe and knowledgeable midwives, and "weeding out" the students who do not meet that criteria.

How do you assess reflective writing?
The last couple of courses I have worked in have been postgraduate midwifery and non-midwifery courses.

These have been interesting in that I have not been assessing 'black and white' knowledge but rather more nebulous things eg personal reflection and learning. I have found this difficult to deal with in terms of assessment...I mean...how can I say what people have learned...what right do I have to put a 'mark' on personal learning?

Devising assessment
What I want to do when I devise an assessment is to ensure it is relevant to the student...that it has meaning and relevance, and enhances the student's learning, rather than being another hurdle for the student to cross.

If it is just another hurdle, then it should not be an assessment. Students are notorious (and I do it myself) for focusing on summative assessment...so as educators I feel we need to ensure that the assessment in itself is a form of learning, not just a means of ticking off boxes.

What has been the most effective assessment you have ever been involved with as a student...that has 'taught' you the most? If you are an educator, what do you feel is an effective assessment strategy?

Image: 'final exams' sashamd


willie campbell said...

I'm interested in your dilemma.
I have come to a compromise about this whole dilemma-
"outcomes" and the qulity and quntity of those need to be very clearly stated.
You will still find people who throw you a curve, BUT
the notion of Rubrics- progfessive descriptions of what makes for competency work very well.
The North American literature found easily on Google will give you many helpful ideas on Rubrics.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you, Willie...rubrics is something I am starting to get my head around & I agree that they are very useful with 'marking' reflective writing.

Sarah Stewart said...

I have had an email from RayT (www.efoliointheuk.blogspot.com) and he says this:

"Yes, Sarah, and that is why e-Portfolios are so very important. The e-Portfolio helps the tutor/assessor understand the whole person, their background, their personality etc, so much more than any summative assessment.

I thoroughly recommend W.J. Popham's book, 'Transformative Assessment'."

Thanks for that, Ray.

M-H said...

Jen Ross has very thought-provoking stuff about this on her blog at http://jenrossity.net/blog/?paged=3 She is quite clear about some of the ethical issues involved in assessing reflection. You might find some of her other blog entries interesting as well.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you very much for the reference M-H...I know quite a few people who will be interested in this.