How Do We Measure What Really Counts In The Classroom

A new generation of assessment tools are hoping to piggyback off the wealth of online rating software to find a better and more efficient method of assessing students.

The world is caught up in an Information Age revolution, where we are all evaluating products, restaurants, doctors, books, hotels, and everything else online, but education has not yet moved past the standardized assessment, which was invented in 1914. Frederick Kelly, a doctoral student in Kansas, was looking for a mass-produced way to address a teacher shortage caused by World War I. If Ford could mass produce Model T’s, why not come up with a test for “lower order thinking” for the masses of immigrants coming into America just as secondary education was made compulsory and all the female teachers were working in factories while their men went to the European front? Even Kelly was dismayed when his emergency system, which he called the Kansas Silent Reading Test, was retained after the war ended. By 1926, a variation of Kelly’s test was adopted by the College Entrance Examination Board as the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). The rest is history.

So when Kyle Peck (from Penn State) and Khusro Kidwai (of the University of Southern Mainedemoed their nonprofit, free eRubric assessment tool at Duke recently, we were all surprised at the flexibility it allowed, in a customizable and highly automated form.

An art history teacher and a prof teaching geographical information systems were both beta-testing it to grade essay and short answer exams to hundreds of students. eRubric allowed them to assess everything from the accuracy of the specific content on individual answers to logical thinking, verbal expression, imaginative thinking-outside-the-box application of the material–in other words: originality. In a different kind of assignment, the professors might have added categories for collaborative work, or the ability to take an idea from beginning to conclusion of a project–the kinds of skills good teachers discover but rarely have a chance to test, measure, or provide any good feedback on, especially if there are 90 or 400 students in a course. The eRubric allows anyone evaluating others the ability to customize the categories to be evaluated, to weight the individual categories differently on different assignments, and could be used in informal or formal education, from kindergarten through college and beyond, and with applications for any Human Resources department at any corporation too.

That’s just the beginning. If a teacher wished, she could even begin the first day of class with a blank eRubric and have students, together, write the categories and the feedback for each category together. They would then know, on each challenge or test or essay they were given, how they would be judged, the terms of the assessment that would, in the end, determine their grade. All research on assessment shows we learn more if we understand, participate in, and agree with the basic learning or work goals we’re aiming at. An investment in outcomes that research shows improves learning.

Read more . . .

via FastCoExist – Cathy Davidson

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