Assess and Engage: Creating Enriching Learning Experiences

Assessments are an intrinsic part of our education system, and are one of the determining factors of progress. They impact multiple stakeholders. They affect the school, the curriculum, and the policies that consider these scores to measure programs.

There are many types of assessments, from formative to summative. Standardized tests form the basis of these assessments. However, this shouldn’t deter teachers from using alternative assessments. While they need not substitute standardized tests, they can help teachers achieve learning objectives in ways that call for high engagement from students.

The Value of Creative Assessments

The goal of any assessment, within the teaching-learning equation, is to see how well students have understood a concept and to measure their progress. Teachers can use the results of their assessment to evaluate their own performance and methods, and formulate new ways to bridge the gap in learning where required.

With creative assessments, the output that you’ll see will be varied, making it difficult to grade. However, it allows children to come up with new ways to express their learning because each student’s takeaway may be different. Assessments can be designed to be more specific and can be customized for a lesson, and will take away the pressure laid on students by high-stakes tests.

How Teachers Can Use Creative Assessments

The most common technique to assess a student’s understanding is to ask either specific or open-ended questions. This may, however, limit the extent to which engagement can be stretched. The response could simply be a result of retention rather than comprehension.

The choice of assessment tools that teachers choose to use depends entirely on the lesson and time. These can range from peer-peer evaluation, self-evaluation, projects like posters and brochures to journaling and working on tasks that utilize technology. The internet is teeming with ideas that can be used to assess skills and what is learned.

There is a lot of neat stuff like doodling and Twitter-style summaries. Doodling can be used to explain concepts. According to Sunni Brown, author of The Doodle Revolution, doodling aids creating, thinking and comprehension. With Twitter-style summaries, students have to sum up what they have learned in very short sentences – a quick way to see if they have got the crux of a lesson without turning it into a comprehensive exercise. Not everything has to be out-of-the-box. Old techniques, like quizzes, can be used in new ways. Say, in peer-to-peer work, students can use a video format.

These assessments not only help students to reflect and synthesize what they have learned, but can also help them develop new skills like making presentations, creative thinking and more. Such assessments can be considered as low-stakes as their impact is not as severe as those of standardized tests.

This is how creative assessments will help teachers in the classroom –

  • Check how well students have understood a lesson immediately or within a few days
  • Increase engagement and active participation
  • Combine learning with skill development
  • Change teaching methods based on responses

How Students Benefit from Creative Assessments

While assessments mean different things to different stakeholders, students continue to be the primary focus. Creative assessments, instead of being a tool to measure learning, can become an extension of learning. They can benefit students in many ways.

  • Develop new skills like writing, presenting, creative thinking, using technology and more
  • Reflect and synthesize information
  • Move away from the pressure of tests and memorizing
  • Interpret what is learned in new ways
  • Contextual learning in which concepts are not learned in isolation
  • Get curious and ask questions
  • Explore a broader spectrum of learning

 

In his TED Talk, Ken Robinson talks about how students are natural learners who need a system that engages them. On teaching, Robinson goes on to say, “Teaching, properly conceived, is not a delivery system. You know, you’re not there just to pass on received information. Great teachers do that, but what great teachers also do is mentor, stimulate, provoke, engage. You see, in the end, education is about learning. If there’s no learning going on, there’s no education going on.”

To this end, creative assessments may help teachers and students engage and learn.

 

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