Reassessing Assessment

Frankly, assessment intimidates me.

As a student, even at the university level, assessment has been the cause of much of my stress and anxiety.  Being the over-achieving perfectionist that I am, I take my grades very seriously, so I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well in school.  In addition, the majority of the assessment that I have experienced as a student has been summative assessment.  Summative assessment, or assessment of learning, judges whether or not students have met curricular goals/outcomes.  Furthermore, summative assessment is typically assigned a grade to denote student achievement.  In fact, most of the university-level science and math classes that I have taken have focused solely on summative assessment, for many of the final exams that I have written have been worth 45-60% of my final grade.  In other words, based on my experiences, assessment has typically supported a “one try to get it right” mentality which only adds to the pressure that I put on myself.

Based on the conversations had in class, it seems that a lot of students have had negative experiences with assessment, or think of assessment in a negative way like myself.  I find this interesting because the whole point of assessment is to guide and support student learning, as well as inform and guide the teacher in his/her teaching.  Overall, assessment is meant to be beneficial to both the students and the teacher.  So how do we, as future educators, debunk and reclaim the idea of assessment?

While my experiences with assessment have been negative, I am coming into ECS 410 with an open mind––I want to learn how to make my future students’ assessment experiences more positive.  In addition, since summative assessment (typically exams) is all I have experienced, I hope to learn different assessment techniques that I can use in my future classroom.

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