I have always found assessment to be incredibly difficult. How can a teacher give a mark to measure how much a student knows? This is especially difficult when all students are better at expressing what they know through different ways. Even though there are many hardships to assessment, I believe I have developed a strong philosophy which helps guide me to create fair and practical assessment strategies. I use various formative assessments throughout the semester and various summative assessments at the end of major units. In assessment, I always keep in mind the difference between memorization and understanding. These three ideals create the core of my philosophy of assessment in education.
I constantly use various types of formative assessment. For example, a daily form of assessment that I use is bell work. When students come into my classroom, they know that they should be working on the problem, activity, or puzzle that I have provided them with for that day. I usually use this as a review for students as well as a means of introducing what my students’ are learning. Students quickly believe that a mark is more important than feedback, and it is for this reason that I do not usually mark bell work. By not marking everything students hand-in or complete and instead providing feedback instead of a mark, students tend to focus more on the value of feedback. Through formative assessment, I provide students with insight into their strengths and areas which require more work. In addition, I use formative assessment as an opportunity for personal reflection so that I can adapt my current and future lessons to meet the needs of the students in the class. If a large number of students do not understand a concept, I ask myself if it is the way in which the concept was presented, and then I plan for alternate and additional help so that students can reach the level of understanding that they need
I see summative assessment as an opportunity for students to demonstrate what they have learned. I use assessment for learning as well as assessment of learning. I always keep in mind that tests are not the only way to assess learning. Therefore, I continuously try to adapt my method of assessing a student’s collective learning. If I decide to use a test in order to assess student learning, I ensure that I provide students with various forms of questions. I often use pictures, multiple choice, fill in the blank, short answer, and labeling. I am also aware that some students may have learning needs which require tests to be presented orally. In contrast to a test, I also like to use projects as a way to assess student learning. The projects I use for summative assessment are meant to assess for learning. Students apply what they have learned and use critical thinking and deeper understanding in order to complete a project. I ensure projects are easily adaptable to all students needs, are inclusive, and focus on a comprehensive assessment of student learning. I believe that using a variety of summative assessments help to give a more holistic view of a student’s learning.
When developing assessment tools, I always ask myself if I am testing for memorization or understanding. I believe that there is a significant difference between memorization and understanding. Understanding allows you to apply what you have learned to various situations whereas memorization allows you to retain information for a period of time. In addition, memorization is not as useful with knowledge application. I believe that you can assess the difference between memorization and understanding by using more than one form of evaluation. A test might assess a student’s ability to remember information whereas a performance assessment requires the student to understand a concept at a higher level in order to complete an application. A performance assessment may include a lab, inquiry project, or a narrative, and students can be given as little or as much information as desired. I believe that a range of assessment and learning approaches can help differentiate higher levels of knowledge.
Before starting each unit of learning, I ensure that I have a good understanding of the assessment methods, and I clearly communicate the assessment methods to my students so that they understand how they will be assessed. Through unit plans, I can ensure that I am properly assessing key components of students’ learning. I keep in mind my key ideals and adapt my lessons and assessment to best fit the students’ needs. Feedback assists students in succeeding in the future. Therefore I emphasize the importance of feedback through all forms of assessment.
Through the use of formative and summative assessments, I believe I create an environment which encourages students’ growth as a learner. I am always organized and incorporating various forms of formative and summative assessment. This ensures more students are given a chance to demonstrate their understanding of course material. I believe my philosophy of assessment creates an environment for all students to be successful.