Thursday, February 19, 2015

Constant Assessment: Making Data Useful

Assessment isn't about assigning a number to determine how a kid can perform on a particular day. Assessment is about figuring out what a kid does and doesn't understand (so far).

Actually, lots of assessment is about that first thing. Educators spend lots of time, energy, and money assigning numbers to kids. What about this: We shouldn't spend most of our assessment energy on the pedagogical equivalent of autopsies. We should spend more time developing, performing, and using formative assessments that help teachers teach and students learn.

In an earlier post, I said that we should assess more and test less. Here are a couple folks who have some ideas that seem related to this idea.

Bernard Bull (on Twitter @bdean1000) has Educational Publishers & Content Providers: The Future Is About Analytics, Feedback & Assessment, which puts the idea of a constant stream of assessment data into the proper context. It isn't about testing. It isn't about bypassing teachers. It's about using data to help students learn and teachers teach more effectively.
"... each action individually and collectively becomes a new data point that can be mined and analyzed for important insights."
His diagram showing how interactive content could be part of an effective part of a learning system is a call to action.

There's also Kristen DiCerbo's (on Twitter @kristendicerbo) work including these articles: How More Data Helps UsWhy an Assessment Renaissance Means Fewer TestsAll Fun & Games? Understanding Learner Outcomes Through Educational Games, and many others. I found Dr. DiCerbo's research when I searched Google for "invisible assessment," which is the same as what I have called "sneaky assessment." Whether it's "sneaky" or "invisible," this sort of assessment is where we should be headed.

eLearning content developers (such as myself) need to do a better job of making this happen, and teachers need to a) demand data-producing interactive content, and b) commit to really using it to help students learn more effectively.

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