Three Beliefs About Assessment

Hello reader!

As part of my master’s in educational technology, I have just started a course on Assessment and we’ve been asked to explain three beliefs we have about assessment. My guess is that we’ll circle back to these beliefs near the end of the course to look for evidence of teacher change! Formal instruction rocks!

Belief #1: Assessment can be used to measure not only student understanding, but teacher effectiveness.

If every student gets the same question or questions incorrect on a test, perhaps it’s not the students who failed to learn, but the teacher who failed to teach. And if every student gets every question incorrect, then perhaps it was an untrained new teacher’s first month of teaching a class that met only an hour a week on a brand new topic that students had never encountered, and I had forgotten how difficult computer science concepts were to understand!

Belief #2: Students can get an answer right, but still not understand the underlying concepts.

I see this a lot in coding, where it’s possible for a student to get some code working through experimentation but without understanding why or how they achieved their result. This is not to say that experimentation is inherently flawed–much can be learned from experimenting and debugging. But, young students must be taught to stop and analyze why something worked before moving on to the next thing.

Belief #3: Feedback fosters more substantial learning than a grade.

For students who are competitive, a grade can be a great motivator. But, for those students who are not motivated by a number, or who do not know how to translate a grade into actionable learning, feedback can guide a student towards improvement and understanding in ways that a number cannot.

In the coming months, I’m looking forward to seeing if there are any theories that support or debunk my beliefs about assessment, and in particular, how theory informs how computer science understanding can be assessed. Stay tuned!

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