Thursday, July 04, 2013

RE: Assessment FOR Learning

This is the first ever reaction paper I've written for my CCT classes.  I also get to read this in front of the class.

In “Assessment Through the Student’s Eyes”, Rick Stiggins stresses the better philosophy of using “Assessment for Learning.”  He states the value of utilizing the assessment process in encouraging students to go for “winning streaks” instead of merely using it for categorizing them into “winners” or “losers.”  The old-fashioned assessment philosophy is satisfied already with just ranking and labeling students according to their achievements, thus, causing the unfortunate and unhealthy typecasting of students into “winners or losers” or “smart, average, and dumb.” But thanks to the evolution of the missions of schools, there has been a reform on the outlook of assessment.  Now, schools are more concerned with assisting all of the students (not only those that have been typecast as “smart” or “winners”) to succeed in learning; there is less emphasis on the sorting of students.  Therefore, assessment for learning aims to completely eliminate “losing” among students, to treat “losses” as mere setbacks that can be bounced out from, make “winners” out of all students, and set them on a track of “winning streaks.”
            The emotional dynamics of the “winners” and “losers” of assessments are extreme polar opposites.  The respective emotions and impressions arising from “winning” and “losing” in assessments are impactful enough to propel “winners” to continue “winning” and “losers” to continue “losing.”  That’s why there is a need for all students to feel the positive and constructive emotional dynamics provided by “winning.”  For that to happen, this is where assessment for learning comes in.
            There is enough evidence to conclude that assessment for learning is a legitimate success in generating optimum results in student learning (Black & William,1998).  The initial step of assessment of learning is for the teacher to set concrete standards for achievement that would be explicitly clear to students.  Hence, the students would know what to aim for.  Then, assessments would serve as constructive and friendly feedbacks which the students can use to evaluate themselves on what is their current statuses are as far as achieving the established standards is concerned; if there is a need for improvement, they would know what aspects they need to improve on.  Thus, there is a need for the teacher to make these feedbacks as clear and specific as possible, so that the students can properly analyze and adjust their performances.  Through this process, the students would undergo improvement, and they would sense this experience of improvement as authentic and somewhat tangible.  They would feel that success is realistically achievable if they continue to work for it.  Hence, they would feel motivated.  They will have a “winning” attitude.
            I’ve found myself continually nodding my head, agreeing to every point Mr. Stiggins raised, while reading his writing.  Mr. Stiggins has done a brilliant job in presenting a compelling thesis.  Now I am not sure if the ideas he presented in the article are originally his own, but regardless of that matter, he was able to deliver these ideas in a logical and organized manner that he succeeded in making the reading experience quite insightful and enlightening.
In a way, reading Mr. Stiggins’ article summarized for me the most important ideas that I have learned during the first meetings of our “Assessment of Learning” course; it served as an exclamation point for the dramatic shift of my presuppositions about learning assessment.  Throughout my whole academic life, I’ve always been given the idea that tests and grades are the end products.  That’s why it blew my mind when this whole “Assessment for Learning” concept was introduced to me.  I found it making a lot of sense.  Now, I’m totally sold on it.  I will advocate it and enforce it when I finally become a (licensed) teacher.

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