Don’t leave your students guessing

During the last two classes of ECS 410, we discussed how feedback influences a student’s quality of work. From this discussion it become even more obvious the necessity for detailed and timely feedback.

We started the discussion by describing the 3 types of assessment: assessment for learning, assessment of learning and assessment as learning. With this discussion, and from reading Kenji Takahashi’s Resource Site: Assessment for/of/as learning, I am aware of the following:

1. Assessment for learning: this is assessment done to understand student progress and prior understanding of a topic. This is also known as Diagnostic Assessment (pre-assessment) and Formative Assessment and if not for marks.
2. Assessment of Learning: this is assessment used to record, and report a student’s achievement of the expected outcome. Also known as Summative Assessment. and used to for marks.
3. Assessment as Learning: this is assessment that is used help students further their own learning such as peer or self assessment. This type is often not used for marks as it came sometimes contain biases.

These different types of assessment are all crucial to the growth of students’ learning. Each type allows students to use their mistakes as opportunities to learn from and improve. Although, it would be more beneficial to learning from assessment for and as learning because they won’t impact the final mark of the student. Likewise, it becomes apparent where the use of feedback would be most beneficial. Feedback should be used throughout all three types of assessment, but should be most detailed during the assessment for learning, just as Anne Davies suggests in her book Making Classroom Assessment Work (p. 2, 2011). This is because it is less useful to know after finishing a unit what you could have done to improve instead of during the unit when you can change and adapt to improve right away- this is the same concept for returning feedback in a timely manner.

Another interesting concept I had learned from class is called the “cookie” method or “sandwich” method- this method involves giving feedback in the order or good-bad-good. What this means is providing two positive comments to help students accept the comment used for constructive feedback. It is the teacher’s responsibility to provide useful, descriptive feedback for students to learn and grow from: “[d]escriptive feedback gives information that enables the learner to adjust what he or she is doing in order to improve” (Gibbs and Stobart 1993; Hattie 1993, 2005). Students learn much more from useful comments than from a big red X across the page.

As a future educator, I have learned the importance of spending the time to provide descriptive feedback; especially, during the assessment for learning. How can I expect my students to know what they are doing wrong if I don’t tell them and help them improve?

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”

~ Bill Gates


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