In 2000, I moved into the big city (Vancouver) to be closer to the University of British Columbia while I completed my Masters. I left my school because I wanted to concentrate on my own learning. However, I wasn’t aware that all the Masters classes were in the evening, leaving me with a lot of time during the day. Luckily, I was able to work at the university’s Faculty of Education, teaching pre-service teachers Science Education, Biology and the Principles of Teaching (PoT) courses that were offered. This helped me connect with some great future educators, and help keep my own learning about teaching in focus. The courses that I took were great, particularly the “Post-Post Modernist Science Education” course. This course took me on a wild ride, especially the conversations around what makes a Scientific Fact.
Generally, the scientific fact is only a fact when it is moved from the dialogic community in which it is postulated into the general community of Scientific research. Basically, it becomes a fact when others, outside of the strand in which it was postulated, use it as a fact.
Crazy thoughts that occupied my time during the course. Luckily, I joined a local dart league, which played every Monday night. I had never really played darts before (I am reluctant to call it a sport, but there you have it). I wasn’t very good, but with some support, I did improve. And that’s where I am going with this post: I only improved when I had consistent feedback about my playing.
That stopped about ten years ago, when the feedback ended and my darts did not improve after that (I think I actually got worse). This got me thinking about assessment in general and how assessment can have a huge negative impact on learning. Without positive assessment strategies, students can learn mis-conceptions and reinforce ideas that inaccurately reflect our world.
Positive assessments are timely, give feedback about successes and areas for improvement. They are not multiple choice tests or quizzes that are marked and returned with numbers or letters returned days or weeks after the assessment. They are not projects that are left on shelves nor are they worksheets that aren’t part of the learning outcomes or standards.They are not standardized tests put out by outside jurisdictions that are marked in far off places and never returned.
Negative assessments hurt student learning. Hopefully, when we look at changing the face of school, we do not forget that assessment is part of learning and can help make the learning more engaging and authentic.
I’m still bad at darts, but that is just a fun thing for me to do on Monday nights. My professional learning, however, is always being assessed in ways that improve what I do. And what I do is support all learners as we navigate the intricacies of our lives.
I thank all those in my PLN (both through social media and through those face-to-face) for supporting my growth as an educator. I used to want to continue with my education through a doctorate, but I learn so much in this anytime/anywhere learning!