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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…)