Assessment is the final part of the learning process, although it is more suitable to understand it as a way to improve the whole process. Assessment is important, since it is the tool that teachers and students use to judge whether educational needs have been met. There are two main categories of assessment:
Summative assessment is outcome-focused, rather than process-focused. This type of assessment provides the means for finding out whether your project has reached its goals/objectives/outcomes.
Formative assessment is a technique that, according to the Carnegie Mellon University’s definition, aims to monitor student learning and to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by teachers to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning.
The balanced use of both the summative and the formative techniques allows a broader/holistic approach to the learning process, and enables one to improve at each stage. For example, the “Building a new environmental future” learning scenario, developed by BLOOM expert teachers, combines summative and formative evaluation by combining assessment of a presentation by the students and assessment by the teacher.
The difference between performance-oriented assessment and product-based assessment lies on a similar axis than the difference between summative and formative assessment. Performance-oriented assessment focuses on the ability of learners to demonstrate their own learning. Product-based assessment on the other hand, focuses on the outcome of the learning process. Both the “How poop will change the world” and the “Growing plastic & new life for plastic” learning scenarios use product-based assessment.
Assess like in a video game!
It is an increasingly mainstream idea among pedagogical experts that the basic structure and assessment method of video games, when implemented in classrooms, can help students experience more success in their learning. How?
Video games have several characteristics that can be useful during assessing learners:
1-They have a balance of skill and challenge. Video games give users challenges that are matched to their skills, but are still challenging, therefore giving them something to work for.
2-They have collaboration at heart. Many video games involve collaboration to an extent where it’s impossible to win unless the player works in a team.
3-They involve incremental success. Most video games have small victories that are achievable along the way towards that one big victory. This not only allows players to feel successful, but also to make mistakes and try again. This naturally involves exponential improvement.
4-Instant feedback. Video games have an instant feedback system after each “task”. This allows players to instantly reassess their work and make decision on how to proceed.
The above points aim to draw attention on how to create an assessment method in your classroom similar to that of assessment in video games. We invite you to consider implementing the above steps when it comes to assessing your students within the framework of your bioeconomy lesson or project. Watch the video below to find out more about the science behind gaming in education and learn a about the theoretical basis of game-based learning (GBL).
Digital tools can help change assessment from something teachers do to students into something teachers and students collaboratively construct. Here are some examples of free tools that teachers can use in their classrooms to create digital learning portfolios with their students: Padlet, Evernote, Kidblog. It is also possible to use any other shared platform. The important part is to make it accessible for everyone to contribute.
Another innovative way of assessing students is peer assessment, a collaborative learning technique in which students assess their peers’ work and have their work assessed by peers. In the video below, John Spencer explains his idea about the 20-minute peer feedback system:
Rubrics are an attempt to create consistent evaluation criteria. They allow teachers and students to evaluate based on complex and objective criteria, and provide a framework for self-evaluation, reflection and peer review. With rubrics, it is possible to deliver a fair and accurate assessment, without actually having to “grade” students.
According to this article, rubrics have many benefits:
-Rubrics guide students and teachers to establish “quality”.
-By using rubrics regularly, students are able to judge their own work better.
-Rubrics reduce the time teachers spend evaluating their students’ work and make it easier for teachers to explain to students why they received the mark they did and what they can do to improve.
Constructive criticism: When providing feedback to your peers, try to include helpful and specific suggestions. If you are unsure of how to do that, please read this article.
Links to useful resources: If you know of any useful resources related to the topic of the work you are reviewing, please do not hesitate to include them in your review. By sharing useful resources, you will help your peers create better learning scenarios.
Acknowledge the effort of your peers: Your peers have put a lot of effort into creating their learning scenarios, so try to do the same when you review their work. Read carefully each learning scenario, be fair during the evaluation and do not forget to include constructive comments and helpful resources.
What not to include in your review:
One-word feedback: As already mentioned before, your peers will benefit most from detailed suggestions, therefore try to avoid one-word feedback, such as “Well done” or “Good”. Try to elaborate why something is good or if something needs improvement, give some recommendations to your peers.
Unconstructive criticism: Here is an example of unconstructive criticism: “Good effort on the learning scenario but I don’t like it.” What do you mean by “don’t like it”? “Like” and “dislike” are subjective phrases. Try to stay away from general and focus on specific feedback. For example: “Good effort on the learning scenario but I noticed that there are some key elements missing, one of them is “assessment”. Assessment is an important part of a learning scenario and when planning it you should always consider what type of assessment you could include. Why not include a rubric as an assessment method? You can go to section 4.1. of this course and learn more about the types of assessment.”
We also created a tutorial video for you, where you can learn how to use the Rubric that is now embedded in the course platform. Please watch the video below before you start evaluating your peers: