Will at Work Learning: New Design for My Smile Sheet

I have both produced and attempted to consume a wide range of learning assessment sheets during my time. Most have missed the point.

One big problem with institutional assessment of learning is that it is easy to fall into the trap of assuming that incoming students are a blank page. From that viewpoint, phrasing goals in terms of what the students will learn, and phrasing assessment in terms of whether the student has learned seem perfectly reasonable.

However, real students arrive with a complex background of knowledge, experience and skills. In cases where a student has already achieved a particular goal before starting a course, asking whether the student has learned that topic during the course only allows one honest answer: “no”.

If teachers are themselves assessed based on the answers to student course assessment responses, this is a dangerous situation. A “no” response now conflates poor teaching/learning with previous experience. This in turn results in a variety of potentially sub-optimal behaviours, including assessment-padding (where students are “encouraged” to lie in responses and give the answer the teacher needs) and student selection (where students with prior experience are rejected as being too troublesome).

With all this in mind I was pleased to find some detailed discussion and recommendations for course assessment and evaluation from Will Thalheimer.

Will at Work Learning: New Design for My Smile Sheet