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A Century-old question: Measuring Learning

The controversy about assessments

Towards the Future

Towards the Future

Lately there are lots of discussions on different levels of society about the lack of skills in IT and other industries requiring a STEM education. Taking part in this discussion will definitely lead you to think about abilities, competences and skills as a result of learning.

Depending your role or standpoint as a

  • parent or student,
  • teacher,
  • administrator for an educational institution,
  • policy maker

you will have different goals and requirements that need to be fulfilled. After a short thinking break, it will become quite clear that measuring learning is a rather complex area.

Everyone of us knows that tests and quizzes are used to measure student learning, in the form of written examinations and increasingly project work. We all experienced this at some point in our lives, as a student and/or teacher. Ultimately assessment leads to a diploma, a degree, a certification or accreditation. All of them open doors for the holder, doors into a community, field of expertise or ecosystem.

Another way of looking at assessments

During my lectures I witness students feeling that their knowledge disappears as soon as it was acquired. To make knowledge visible for the learner, assessments can create the necessary self-awareness. As the first line in a list of “Tips for new teaching staff” from an Australian University reads

—- Assessment should help students to learn —-

a “check your own knowledge” feature in a course rather than a skill assessment would serve the purpose.

daniel_300This is the approach taken by the Daniel Jossen
Cisco Networking Academy Instructor at several academies in Switzerland

“I use assessments and chapter exams in my CCNA courses in the following way: They are an obligatory part of the course and have to be done by students on their own time after class. I do not evaluate them as part of their grade. They can do the assessments as many times as they want. 

I think that the use of the tests as a self assessment tool gives them the control of their learning process which builds their confidence and motivation.

It also allows them to get familiar with the exam format and type of questions used in such kind of standardized  assessments towards a industry certification. It is an additional motivation for the students, if they can pass the final course exam with the  required 75% to receive the student voucher for a Cisco Certification at less cost.”

At this moment in time it seems that we can not yet do without standardized and multiple choice tests. But the rules of education are changing tremendously with all the new forms of learning appearing on the markets, as for examples MOOCs, skills sharing platforms and tandem learning partnerships that replace the teacher function with peer support.

What is your approach?
How do you use the assessments in the Networking Academy courses?

Looking forward to discussing with you …

 

LINKS of INTEREST

A school that does not require the person to have a degree or any other kind of school certificate is Ecole 42. The founder Nicolas Sadirac says “that a school should not deliver a diploma but a profession”. [in French]

Education Scotland has a great collection about principles of assessment and the role of Role of ICT in learning

Getting deeper into the question What does Research say about Assessment?

Stanford University Professor Linda Darling-Hammond discusses what the United States can learn from high-achieving countries on teaching, learning, and assessment — from Finland to Singapore.

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