The Road to Improved Teaching and Learning
Many Schools have lost sight of Learning as the ultimate goal of education. Instead, merits, grades and ranks were given emphasis. The process of Assessment and Evaluation were used to determine the ‘passers’ from ‘failures’ instead of using both as tools for learning. How again, could these tools be utilized again to enhance and support learning?
For both teaching and learning, teachers and learners, to prosper through Assessment and Evaluation, I suggest the ff:
- That Educators emphasize learning for learning itself, not for grades
- That Educators put emphasis on Assessment and Evaluation for their professional practice
- That Educators practice an active and democratic assessment that empower learners
- That Educators develop Growth Mindset among learners
That Educators emphasize learning for learning itself, not grades
Through assessments, educators are able to obtain pertinent information on student learning and their teaching. It is on-going, diagnostic and informs about strengths and weaknesses of both student and teacher. It is facilitated through learning activities and is obtained through teacher’s and student’s inputs. Evaluation, on the other hand, is summative and is made to show by the end of a term, the learning or progress. It is expressed in the form of grades.
The danger of current practice roots from the lack of balance between Assessment and Evaluation. Evaluation has been given more focus resulting to a competitive environment (intra and inter school level) that values grades and ranking more than learning itself. Students work hard to earn good grades and please others. This kind of environment is unhealthy and puts a lot pressure to the students. Psychologically, students suffer from the judgement they get when they are identified as ‘loser’. They tend to lose confidence and cripple their potentialities. On the other hand, teachers identify top class performers and award them with recognition.
It is great to know that our students are achieving but have we assisted each of them enough so that all of them would be capable of achievement? Did we practice assessment enough to gauge our students very well, to know them as persons with strengths and weaknesses? Did we commit enough to help them through feedback and encouragement? Or did we just have them sit and take all that we have prepared for their learning and measure them in the end? This exactly is the failure of the imbalance. Teachers only evaluate and not provide enough assessment that could have propelled and improved learning especially of the kids who struggle. If we will not be able find balance, we continue an unfair and unhealthy hidden curriculum that says: “Study well so you can have good grades” and “Good grades mean you are learning. Failing means you are not.”
That Educators put emphasis on Assessment and Evaluation for their professional practice
Following the danger of an unfair and unhealthy hidden curriculum shared above, Educators must use Assessment and Evaluation to improve professional practice to sustainably offer a psychologically safe, happy and supportive environment to students. The feedback obtained from these processes are useful to start a reflective practice. This means educators practice the skill of self-improvement through data provided by their students and co-educators.
That Educators practice an active and democratic assessment that empower learners
Assessment is best done with the participation of the students. This way, they are empowered as subjects who are capable of steering and reflecting on their own learning. For the teachers, this also offers a more realistic feedback because it is participatory and offers diverse content. In harnessing skills on self-management, self-discovery and self-knowledge we are able to develop skills necessary for life-long learning. Indeed, “Know Thyself” by Socrates is the foundation of all learning. Only when one is able to know oneself that he/she is able to explore the inner and outer world meaningfully.
That Educators develop Growth Mindset among learners
It is important that educators, through Assessment and Evaluation communicate to learners that mistakes and failure are not indicators of stupidity or non-learning. Instead and as proposed by Carol Dweck, educators must help develop a healthier attitude to mistakes and failures. For example, after a term, a student learned that he failed in Biology. Instead of being stigmatized as a ‘failure’, the learning environment should be built in such a way that this particular student will work harder and devise better studying techniques. He will also be given enough support by the teacher who believes that he is capable of improving himself and that this episode does not define him. Developing growth mindset could not only benefit academic performance but other aspects of life as well.
Dweck, Carol S.. (2008) Mindset :the new psychology of success New York : Ballantine Books,