Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Learning Assessment

A teacher on Twitter, asked for recommendations to go with a book on learning assessments; I have been thinking about the pedagogical theory informing learning assessments for quite some time, and I am becoming increasingly convinced that, the only meaningful learning assessment, is the assessment of the student herself, as to her satisfaction of the learning experience. If the student's assessment of her own learning experience is not the measure of our learning assessment, then what is our assessment telling us, what is its meaning? Its meaning can only be a measure of the teacher's satisfaction of the students learning experience.

If the student satisfies the teacher's learning assessment criteria, but the student remains unsatisfied by the learning experience; if the student satisfied all 'learning objectives' created by the the teacher, but the student had little opportunity to satisfy their own self-generated inquiries, our learning assessments will have indicated that the 'learning objectives' have been met, yet in no way can it be said that meaningful education or learning taken place.

Teacher generated learning objectives, only indicate if the student has complied with instructions, not whether authentic inquiry as been explored.

What do teacher-generated learning objectives teach students? They teach students that their curiosity is not part of 'education'; that their learning needs are not important to 'education'; teacher-generated learning objectives teach students, that someone else is to determine *what* you are to learn, and your duty is to comply with instructions, and if you do, you will receive praise, little stickers, and a positive
letter grade.

Is this the lesson that we want to teach?

Educators need to re-think the pedagogical models that are based on hierarchical structures which have implicit tension with uneven power-dynamics.

We should permit students to be free to learn; free to generate their own inquiries, and assess for themselves, whether their curiosity and need to explore, has been satisfied.

Other-wise, what are we really teaching?

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