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Newer assessment strategies to consider

The four strategies that follow are not meant to be an exhaustive list. They give a flavour of assessment methods that could be suitable.

Learning logs or journals are already being used by many teachers in ways that are compatible with assessing key competencies. Students could add a key competency dimension when they use their journal to set clear competency learning goals, record evidence of their success in meeting these, and reflect on their ongoing learning needs. This dimension could sit alongside any journal entries related to other learning goals.

A learning story is a short narrative that documents an instance when a learner shows the disposition to use some aspect of competency, adapting what they can already do to meet the challenges of the task at hand. An accumulation of learning stories over time provides a picture of the learner's developing and strengthening competency. The stories may be instigated and written by the teacher, the student, a parent, and/or some other adult. They will typically be developed collaboratively and may include photos or other evidence. While this assessment method was initially developed in early childhood settings, it has recently been used at all levels including secondary school (Carr, 2001; and Ministry of Education, 2004a).

Portfolios collect annotated evidence of learning. These can be a lot of work for teachers. However, the process will be better aligned with lifelong learning intentions if students compile their own portfolios, selecting items for inclusion and writing descriptive reflections on what the evidence shows about their learning. This variation on the creation of a learning story extends across a period of time rather than being a single snapshot. It's important that teachers provide models for students to follow and that each student feels safe to comment honestly on what they perceive to be their learning strengths and ongoing needs. Portfolios can contribute to reporting purposes when they are used as a basis of three-way teacher, student, and parent conferences.

Rich tasks were first designed as part of the New Basics curriculum initiative in Queensland, Australia. New basics are the multi-literacies for the information age that need to be added to the old basics of reading, writing, and numeracy. Rich tasks are carefully designed to be both complex and multifaceted. Students work towards achieving them over several years and receive formative feedback as they make progress. In the New Basics project, teachers were involved in the actual assessment, but the initial design of the tasks and of the assessment schedules was done by small teams of experts and teachers working together. The tasks were generic enough to enable schools and teachers to choose contexts and task details that met the learning needs of their own students. More recently, 'rich task blueprints' have been developed to give teachers more input into the actual tasks.

Next – Rethinking familiar assessment strategies

Published on: 17 Mar 2008


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