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Best Assessment for Learning Strategies and How to Make Them Work in Your Classroom

Best Assessment for Learning Strategies

What are Assessments for Learning (AFL) strategies?

Learning is a journey, and it requires regular assessment and strategizing to ensure we reach the desired destination. Assessment for learning strategies are the strategies teachers use to assess the efficacy of learning being delivered to their students. These assessment strategies help the teachers understand the current state of learning, which they can then compare against the planned learning state and decide on the future course of action depending on the gaps observed between the assessment and the plan. Assessment of learning strategies gives a 360-degree view to the key stakeholders – students, parents, and teachers – about the efficacy of the currently employed learning strategies.

Also Read: Working Memory Difficulties: Strategies for the Classroom

Why assess learning?

Assessments of learning help them understand whether they are in the right direction, or if any course corrections are required. Without an assessment, both the teachers and the learners will be in the dark about the efficacy and effectiveness of the learning strategies being followed. These assessments give students the confidence that they are progressing, thus enhancing their trust and belief in the learning methods. Assessments also act as a feedback loop for the teachers to validate their choice of pedagogical methods, and take any corrective measures if things are not working as per plan.

Which assessment for learning strategy to choose?

It is largely up to the teachers to decide the strategies they wish to adopt to assess the learning of their students. The choice of these strategies depends on various factors such as:

– Class size: The size of the class can sometimes constrain the kind of strategies teachers can adopt for learning assessment. For example, a small class size is more amenable to individual discussion-based assessments as compared to a large class size.

– Subject matter: Certain subject types are more suitable to certain specific kinds of assessment strategies. For example, vocational courses are better assessed through practical projects while conceptual subjects can be better assessed through case-based questioning.

– Course duration: The duration of the course also lends itself as a key determinant of the assessment strategies that can be adopted. A short-duration course cannot practically accommodate an extended evaluation strategy as against a long-duration course.

– Learning objectives: The learning objectives of the course are one of the foremost determinants of the choice of learning assessment strategies. The assessment strategy must be aligned with the learning objectives to generate valid and reliable results.

– Situational Factors: Various other situational factors can influence the choice of assessment strategies. For example, during the COVID lockdown, since the classes were being conducted online, the assessments had to also be conducted online. This factor acted as a significant influence on the design and choice of evaluation strategies given that the exams were now to be conducted without proper proctoring.

– Personal Factors: Individual student-specific factors or learning idiosyncrasies could be a telling factor in influencing the choice of learning assessment strategies. For example, students suffering from certain learning disabilities will need a specially designed learning assessment strategy.

Also Read: What Makes the Biggest Impact on Student Learning?

Types of AFL Strategies

Teachers can be innovative in designing their own AFL strategies. Below are some of the more popularly followed AFL strategies. These could be a good starting point for teachers when choosing a suitable assessment strategy for their class.

Questioning

The question-and-answer method is one of the most popularly followed methods of AFL. This method is very efficient and requires less time and effort to execute. It works very well where learning objectives include an ability to remember, understand, or even analyse complex conceptual topics. It is also a suitable strategy for problem-solving scenarios. It has its limitations as answers are self-reported in nature. They can assess knowledge but not influence the learner’s behaviour.

Observation Method

One of the key learning objectives for most education is to drive change in behavioural responses and actions. Teachers would thus want to assess whether the learning is influencing the children’s behaviour as planned, or not. In such scenarios, the best assessment strategy is to observe behaviour. The questioning strategy may not work in such scenarios as children might be tempted to give the politically correct answer. For example, if you are teaching the virtues of sharing to a bunch of preschoolers, asking the question “Do you think sharing is good?” may yield “Yes!” as a resounding politically correct response. A better way to assess would be to create scenarios where there are more children and fewer toys and then subtly observe if children share their toys. Direct observation is one of the most powerful methods to assess behavioural transformation as an outcome of the learning journey

Feedback

Feedback is an essential AFL strategy for all possible scenarios. A 360-degree feedback loop between the teacher and the students can work wonders in enhancing the effectiveness of the learning journey.

Self-assessment

Introspection by students in the form of self-assessment of their learning progress can be an effective way to drive insights and motivation towards learning. Honest and unbiased self-assessment is inward looking in nature. If executed well, it could be an extremely effective AFL strategy. The nature of “self” assessment creates automatic buy-in for the assessment outcome thus enhancing the inherent efficacy of the same.

Peer Assessment

Sometimes we as learners might be blinded by our own biases and limitations. These biases and limitations can act as a hindrance to an accurate assessment of our learning progress. In such a scenario, peer assessment could be an extremely useful tool to arrive at an unbiased third-party assessment of our learning growth. In many cases, students spend more time with their peers than they do with their teachers. This puts the peers in an advantageous position to assess learning and its influence on their behaviour. Peer bias and competitive pressures might dilute the outcome and teachers need to guard for the same.

Formative Assessment

Our education system has traditionally followed a summative assessment format. An exam is held at the end of the term and results are declared, categorising students into levels, or grades. The applicability of those assessments ends there and is usually not looked at while designing future learning journeys. Formative assessments are holistic and continuous in nature. They are actively used to fine-tune the learning journey as we go through it.

Also Read: 10 Strategies to Build on Student Collaboration in the Classroom

At EuroSchool our expert teachers deploy the most suitable and effective AFL strategies for our students. Our teachers constantly innovate in the way they assess and personalise learning assessment strategies depending on the special needs of our students.



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