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We traditionally think of learning activities or lessons as distinct from assessments. For example we may teach three lessons then stop for a test, following a similar pattern throughout the school term. It is because we attribute a very limited role to assessment that this pattern is so typical. It overlooks the potential of assessments to provide feedback to students and to teachers—to be valuable learning activities in themselves. Authentic Active Learning activities integrate assessments as part of the learning stream.
It is helpful to think of assessment in three different ways.
Assessment of Learning
This form of assessment is often referred to as summative assessment. It is the kind of assessment done for the purpose of assigning a mark or grade. One of the challenges faced by Active Learning teachers is the selection of assessments that are suitable. Active Learning activities can span a greater intellectual range than more traditional strategies such as lecturing. Students can move beyond mere recall and simple understanding of concepts to the application, analysis, evaluation, and creation of new knowledge and artifacts. It therefore does not make sense to employ assessments such as multiple choice tests, for example, to measure the kinds of knowledge students may have acquired from their Active Learning activities. What does make sense is to design assessments which resemble the learning activities themselves. (more…)
Designing Active Learning activities offers enormous possibilities for personal innovation and invention. Here is a chance to create something really new, and highly effective. The list of possible Active Learning activities is infinite! So be daring and have some fun. Don’t wait for someone to invent your Active Learning lessons. The following discussion is intended to help you build your own Active Learning activities.
Examine the following chart and think of it as an anatomical model of an Active Learning activity. It has, potentially, three parts, but at least two. Let’s also keep in mind that Active Learning activities can lie between simple and complex. This model can apply to even the simplest activities, such as a spontaneous in-class think-pair-share, but it is more valuable when you are designing Active Learning activities which are larger.