Badges as New Methods of Educational Assessment


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My second assignment for the Badges MOOC considers how badges could supplement current assessment methods in the K-12 educational system.

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Badges as New Methods of Educational Assessment

  1. 1. H O W C A N B A D G E S M A K E A D I F F E R E N C E ? Learner Competencies and Badges in the K-12 Alberta Educational System
  2. 2. W H O D E V E L O P S L E A R N E R C O M P E T E N C I E S A N D E X P E C T A T I O N S I N A L B E R T A ? Developing Learner Competencies
  3. 3. How are competencies defined in education, and by whom?  All learner outcomes (i.e., competencies) in Alberta come from the Alberta Program of Studies (i.e., curriculum)  All teachers receive a detailed list of learner outcomes for each subject at each grade level  Alberta Education arrives at these competencies through a complex series of consultations involving education and industry specialists and professionals in conjunction with the Alberta government
  4. 4. The Role of Teachers  Although the government creates learner expectations, teachers have freedom to select which outcomes they will focus on and work with for each reporting period  Most report cards ask teachers to choose from a list of learner outcomes, as including all outcomes would be prohibitively bulky. Thus, most teachers pick and choose from the government provided competencies.  This is particularly true in less stringently defined subject areas, such as the arts
  5. 5. H O W D O S T U D E N T S A T T A I N L E A R N I N G O B J E C T I V E S ? Learning Frameworks
  6. 6. What are the learning frameworks that guide learners toward achieving the competencies?  Within the school system, teachers serve the dual role of learning providers and assessors  The government also plays a role in assessment through standardized testing delivered every three years (in grades 3, 6, 9, and 12) to all Alberta students  Teachers are responsible for creating a framework – often in collaboration with other teachers – that will help students to attain learner competencies  Often individual schools or boards provide optional or mandatory resources, such as textbooks, designed around these specific learner outcomes
  7. 7. The Teacher’s Role Teachers are responsible for…  designing a framework that ensures all students attain the learner competencies specified by Alberta Education  ensuring that they provide instruction in all subject areas and address each leaner outcome over the course of the term  providing a variety of methods of assessment for each student Image by Rex Pe
  8. 8. H O W A R E S T U D E N T S A S S E S S E D , A N D H O W I S T H A T P R O G R E S S R E C O R D E D ? How We Assess and Record Student Progress
  9. 9. Who assesses learners’ competencies? What evidence documents learners’ competencies, and who has access to this evidence? Can individuals assert competence without having undertaken a learning program, e.g., through tests or prior learning evaluation? How are learners’ competencies recorded?  Teachers are directly responsible for assessing students’ competencies  Very few teachers allow students to demonstrate competencies without undertaking the learning program, due in part to the difficulty of programming for students who already demonstrate competency in everything a teacher plans to do throughout the year  Learner competencies are generally documented and reported through report cards, which are provided to parents and school officials on a regular basis  Parents also receive copies of student work and tests at regular intervals throughout the year  The government plays a role in assessment through standardized tests delivered every three years (in grades 3, 6, 9, and 12) Image by KF
  10. 10. Formative Assessment Summative Assessment  Occurs during student learning  Often informal – takes the form of anecdotal notes, observations, and student work (small projects, worksheets, assignments, etc.)  Occurs at the end of student learning  Often formal – takes the form of exams, large projects, papers, and other pieces designed to demonstrate student knowledge How Teachers Assess
  11. 11. W H O A R E T H E S T A K E H O L D E R S ? Who Cares?
  12. 12. Who are the consumers of the records of competence?  Students  Parents  Future educators/instructors  Post secondary institutions  Employers NB: Assessments are cumulative. It’s unlikely an employer would ask for a prospective employee’s first grade report card, but they may ask for a college transcript, and admittance to college may have been based on high school assessments.
  13. 13. D O E S I T W O R K ? Strengths and Shortcomings
  14. 14. Strengths Shortcomings  Standards remain the same across the province  Clear expectations of teachers and students  Easy to access learner outcomes  Wide berth of information across subject areas  Standards do not fit all students (too complex for some, too simple for others)  Too many objectives to report on  Objectives are often rushed due to “time crunch” and the need to cover all learning outcomes Outline the shortcomings and strengths of the current currency exchange in this ecosystem.
  15. 15. H O W C A N B A D G E S W O R K W I T H I N T H I S E C O S Y S T E M ? The Role of Badges
  16. 16. Trevor: The Current System Trevor is an eleventh grade student at a local high school. Although he knows a lot about the areas that interest him – primarily cars and computers – he doesn’t do well in traditional school subjects. He has more or less given up on school, and attends mainly because he has to (and to see his friends). Trevor scrapes by with passing grades, which is all he aspires to. At home, he spends many hours watching YouTube videos on how to repair his car, and he has helped his parents with some basic mechanical problems. If his grades are good enough, he plans to go to vocational school and become a mechanic, but his real dream is to design and build his own hot rodder. Image by Gates Foundation
  17. 17. Trevor: An Alternative Trevor is an eleventh grade student at a local high school. Although he knows a lot about the areas that interest him – primarily cars and computers – he doesn’t do well in traditional school subjects. Trevor is actively pursuing the school’s “automechanic” badge. This badge requires him to attend all classes regularly and maintain a passing average in the traditional assessment system, but also provides him with “side quests” he must complete. If Trevor successfully earns this badge, he will be able to include it with his applications to vocational school. Post secondary institutions are familiar with this school’s badge system and have access to the criteria students completed in order to earn each badge. They are confident that the teachers, as assessors, will only award the badge if it is well deserved. Image by Gates Foundation
  18. 18. Mount Clearview’s Automotive Badge Criteria for the automotive badge:  Attain a passing grade of 50% in all major core subjects  Attend all classes on a regular basis  In a manner of your choosing, demonstrate the ability to complete four of the following tasks:  Identify the parts of an engine  Perform basic car maintenance, such as changing oil, tires, and spark plugs  Explain how an engine operates  Identify five common problems with cars and how to fix them  Explain, in basic terms, the history of the car and how it has affected society  Demonstrate the ability to dismantle and reassemble at least one engine component
  19. 19. Similarities Differences  Students still receive standard report cards and assessments  Students are still required to learn competencies put in place by Alberta Education  Students must still demonstrate knowledge to an official assessor (ie, a teacher) to receive credit  Students must still complete preset learner competencies in order to receive credit  Students have choice in terms of which learner objectives to focus on, rather than the teacher choosing for them  Students can choose areas to specialize in  Students who do not excel in traditional academic areas can focus on “getting by” in those areas while developing skills in their areas of interest A Badge Based System: What’s the Difference?
  20. 20. S O M E P R A C T I C A L S U G G E S T I O N S How Can This Work?
  21. 21. In order for a badge based system to work within an educational ecosystem… 1. All institutions must acknowledge the value of badges Few students will be interested in pursuing badges for knowledge’s sake alone. Post secondary institutions must communicate with schools to acknowledge the value of badges. Badges should be included in transcripts, along with lists of criteria for each badge, so that it is easy for a post secondary institution to access the assessment information.
  22. 22. In order for a badge based system to work within an educational ecosystem… 2. Teachers must be willing to take on an active role in creating and assessing badgework. Badges do not work without competent assessment. In the preceding example, Trevor would have had to find a teacher knowledgeable about mechanics, or a teacher would have to find an outside individual capable of creating the criteria for the badge and assessing the learner’s ability to meet that criteria.
  23. 23. In order for a badge based system to work within an educational ecosystem… 3. Everyone must be willing to acknowledge that the current learner outcomes do not work for everyone. Students at post secondary institutions are allowed and encouraged to specialize; students in the K-12 system are expected to be jack-of-all-trades. It’s fine to expect students to acquire a basic knowledge of core academic subjects, but we must accept that not everyone fits the cookie cutter model we have created.
  24. 24. In order for a badge based system to work within an educational ecosystem… 4. Stakeholders must release control Currently, all learner competencies are assigned by governments and teachers. For a badge based system to work, both institutions must accept that students will want to pursue other, equally valid, competencies.