Can assesment be another learning activity?

October 28, 2007

I am one of those teachers who went about getting “certified” to teach with an alternative certification through the MAT program at Morehead State University. Prior to returning to get my Masters, I worked as a shift supervisor in industry. I was amazed at the individuals that worked for me in terms of lack of preparation for the real world; so, to make a difference, I went back to get certified to teach.

Based upon my experiences learned from industry, I gear assessment towards real life experiences and real life experiences require writing and doing things. One of the things that really shocked me in industry was the lack of ability of individuals to do things that required thinking or communicating about problems.

Everyday connection has been a big part of my assessment, even in my science classes, and students tend to hate it at first. However, I really feel that we need to do these “portfolio” type things to prepare students for the real world. For example the first big writing that my students encounter is a lab report on an experiment that we perform in physics class. The ideas are not really complex, but the students must organize the ideas in a competent manner so that laymen could understand them.

What really shocks me each year that I require students to do this assessment is the amount of learning that takes place during the assessment, that is during the writing. I require my students to write a standard lab report in a scientific manner that does not allow for “fluff” or other types of flowery writing. This scientific style and rules of writing makes the students revisit the ideas that they have developed and actively manipulate the information so that they may communicate the ideas to others.

I also found this out my first year of teaching. Obviously I knew my subject since I passed the praxis assessment without issue, but when I had to teach the content to my students I started understanding chemical and physics concepts at a deeper level since I had to explain the interconnections between subject content. With writing, hopefully I can place students in a situation that will allow them to also make those connections.

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