How can assessment encourage and motivate children to succeed both academically and socially?
Teachers plan lessons according to the curriculum and to suit the needs of the students; the planning of assessments should be no different. Bartlett states (2015, p.59) that “assessment of each activity should be part of the planning process and needs to be seamless and focused”. Assessments need to be relevant and authentic to serve our students' needs best. Callison (1998, p.1) claims that “Authentic assessment is an evaluation process that involves multiple forms of performance measurement reflecting the student's learning, achievement, motivation, and attitudes on instructional-proceedings. Examples of authentic assessment techniques include performance assessment, portfolios, and self-assessment”. According to Callison, in order to create authentic assessments that encourage student growth, it is first essential that we take the time to get to know our students. If we do not know our students, it will not be easy to measure what is relevant and meaningful.
Creating a positive classroom environment, where students are encouraged and collaborative relationships are formed, is the first step for making significant and appropriate assessments that inform the teacher and the student and allow for maximum growth. School assessments should assess the process, not the final task. If assessments are authentic, students will be motivated learners and take ownership and pride in their learning, thus taking opportunities to develop the 21st-century learning skills that are so important to learn. I believe that, building positive relationships and creating meaningful and authentic assessments is crucial for the success of our students. As educators, we must ensure that we take any opportunities to learn and reflect upon our practice, to do what is best for our students.
Black and Wiliam (2012, p.2) claim "assessment in education must, first and foremost, serve the purpose of supporting learning". In my teaching, I have used many diagnostic assessments in the past in order to support learning. For example, I have used running records, journals, writing prompts, KWL charts, pre-unit tests, among others. However, the best types of assessments that I have encountered have been meaningful projects that were student led. In these instances, students were collaborative and motivated to succeed because they were passionate about what they were learning. Therefore, in the process, they were academically driven. Whenever possible, I aim for formative and summative assessments to either overlap or integrate, providing it is meaningful and relevant to both myself and my students. If formative and summative assessments are integrated, the criticisms surrounding summative assessments disappear as they can be informative and can help instil confidence in students, while also meeting other objectives.
Self-assessment, in my perspective, is one of the best ways for students to truly take ownership of their learning, and this can also be integrated into formative and summative assessments. With continued effort and understanding, blending formative and summative assessments is something all educators should consider, as it will positively impact both their teaching practice and the students they teach.
We can motivate students to take control of their learning and engage in the reflection process, formative assessments will transform the assessment process from a process that only gives relevant information to teachers, to a process that also gives relevant information to students. Again, all this needs to be done through the development of positive working relationships alongside safe and comfortable learning environments so students can thrive and meet and exceed their potential.
Bartlett, J. (2015) Outstanding Assessment for the Classroom. 1st ed. London.
Black, P & Wiliam, D. (2012). Edited by: John Gardner. Assessment and Learning. 2nd Edition. Chapter 2: "Assessment for Learning in the Classroom" Publishing Company: SAGE Publications Ltd City: London.
Callison, D. (1998). Authentic Assessment. School Library Media Activities Monthly 14, no. 5. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslpubsandjournals/slr/edchoice/SLMQ_AuthenticAssessment_InfoPower.pdf