The Best Kinds/Types of Student- centredAssessments or Evaluations. By Dr Koshy A.V. Assistant Professor Faculty of Arts, Jazan University MoHE, KSA.
Diagnostic Evaluation• Preliminary evaluation should be DIAGNOSTIC at the beginning of a course or semester or year or degree. This is to ascertain that the level of the students is actually what it ought to be, with regard to their age and prior educational qualification and experience, except in the case of differently abled students who have ASD etc.
Diagnostic Evaluation -2• This would include not only entrance tests but also tests held in the actual learning environment/situation so that the teachers could find out the “Multiple Intelligences” (Howard Gardner) of the students, their individual gifts/strengths and weaknesses, as well as get an idea of how to not only generalize, commonalise or specialize but “differentiate instruction” (Carol Tomlinson) for the entire class and its students as individuals and a group.
A Brief Inset on the MI > Linguistic Verbal.• Logical Mathematical• Bodily Kinesthetic.• Visual Spatial.• Interpersonal.• Existential• Naturalist.• Intrapersonal• Musical Rhythmic. (Howard Gardner)
Definition of DI and Its Use• “Differentiated instruction, according to Carol Ann Tomlinson (as cited by Ellis, Gable, Greg, & Rock, 2008, p. 32), is the process of “ensuring that what a student learns, how he or she learns it, and how the student demonstrates what he or she has learned is a match for that student’s readiness level, interests, and preferred mode of learning”. Teachers can differentiate through four ways: 1)through content, 2) process, 3) product, and 4) learning environment based on the individual learner.” This is what the best attempts at designing education – ideal education – offers or should offer.
Contextual Examples of Introductory Diagnostic Evaluation/Assessment.• Academic Writing – Make the students write a paragraph or essay for the teacher’s perusal.• Poetry – Make them write their own definition of poetry and perhaps quote lines, poems or even song lyrics they like as examples.• Drama – Let them define it, instead of telling them what it is, in interactions or writing.• Short story - Let them define it, instead of telling them what it is, in interactions or writing.
Prescriptive Evaluation• The second step of evaluation is PRESCRIPTIVE based on the tests held that were diagnostic, and on continuous assessment, taking the form of feedback given to students as to how they can hit the target of the learning aims/goals of the course by its end or the overarching bigger ones of the syllabus and curriculum and lifelong learning (life skills, soft skills etc.).
A Contextual Example following onfrom the earlier slide of Examples to Diagnostic Assessment.• Academic writing – After checking the paragraphs and essays give feedback, ideally written, on learning aims and where the students have to improve individually, on the basis of their learning outcomes.• Example: Student A has to improve in mechanics, B in syntax, C in grammar and writing sentences that are connected meaningfully to one another to unify their paragraphs etc.
Drama.• On the basis of written work handed in by the student check if he/she has some idea of the Freytag’s pyramid and of any kind of actual exposure to theatre, drama and its history. Knowledge of local forms should be considered an asset.
Poetry Checklist.• Figurative language.• Imagery• Structure/form• Meaning/themes• Music and Rhythm.• Language and Style• History- names, poems, ages etc.
Short Story Checklist.• Plot – the basic five Freytag elements plus irony, symbolism, foreshadowing, flashback (sub-plot) etc.• Characters - characterization• Theme- themes• Setting – time, place, space, atmosphere, milieu etc.• Point of view – omniscient etc.• History and genres, names, stories etc.
Graded Learning and Level Based Evaluation• The third step is to have CONTINUOUS or CUMULATIVE evaluation through internal assessment, accompanied by diagnostic, prescriptive and descriptive narratives. The aim is not for this to add up to grades or marks, though that can be a secondary aim, but to ensure that the gap between learning outcomes and learning goals/aims are continuously discovered and addressed to be bridged satisfactorily in the case of each student. The teacher-student ratio has to be ideal for this.
Graded Learning and Level Based Evaluation -2• To achieve graded learning by which one actually ensures that the student moves from one level to the next as intended, it is very useful to have course planning, syllabus planning etc., done by pedagogical and curriculum experts and not left vague. The written material used as guidelines must thus be clear, sharp and accurate.
Things to concentrate on in Evaluating Graded Learning or Level Based Learning.• Check if reading comprehension has actually occurred.• Are the learning aims/goals being satisfactorily met.• Is brain based learning taking place? This means the students will make intelligent connections, not learn by rote, master curriculum based skills, problem solve and become self-sufficient learners not ‘taught’ learners.• Are the abilities of critical thinking, analysis, interpretation and holistic thinking/learning – pattern forming - being mastered?
Summative Evaluation/Assessment• It is suggested that SUMMATIVE assessment be done - if at all - not on the basis of the pass minimum – there being ideally no failure but attempts to try again till one succeeds or gives up– but on the basis of a very clear grid of whether the learning outcomes match the intended learning aims/goals. This can be tabulated in different ways, including by descriptive/report narratives or evaluation, as in the case of assessing research papers.
Rubrics• Sometimes rubrics of assessment as a guideline for evaluating final exam papers can help tremendously in summative assessment, although this might be more likely in the context of language than in that of literature.
A Note on Exercises for Assessment.• If techniques like trans-disciplinary learning, group and paired participatory activities, field trips, projects, portfolios, library research, experiential learning, hands on learning, class rooms as experimental teaching spaces for students and teachers, problem solving, presentations in pairs and as groups and as individuals, making and doing as a part of learning etc., are made use of in setting exercises for assessment the students will always find it more interesting.
Summing Up:• The kinds/types of evaluation and assessments are:• Diagnostic• Prescriptive/Descriptive (reports/narratives)• Continuous – Graded and Level based• Cumulative• Summative
It is important to see the continuity. Diagnostic/Prescriptive Continuous/Cumulative Summative.
Thought for the Day.• Summative assessment can be done away with entirely if the first four types of assessment are done properly and continuously and the students are asked to develop portfolios for assessment at the end of the semester or term and not to take a final exam.
A Cardinal Point.• All this works only in a mature educational set up where teachers enjoy a great deal of independence and trust to ensure quality education transpires.
References• Howard Gardner’s MI (http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiple_intelligences )• Carol Tomlinson’s DI. (http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Differentiated_instruction )