Assessment to Demonstrate Learning
There is value in providing learners with an opportunity to show what they have learned and in assessing their progress through performances and products. Teachers and learners can form more rich and useful judgements about learner progress through performance assessments, tasks through which learners demonstrate what they have learned in authentic, realistic ways.
Designing tasks for summative assessments can be challenging. They should “be complex enough to engage learners in real thinking and performances, open-ended enough to encourage different approaches, but sufficiently constrained to permit reliable scoring; they will allow for easy collection of records, and they will exemplify ‘authentic’ work in the disciplines” (ERIC, 1993). For example, a set of multiple-choice questions can test a learner’s memory of the components of the scientific method, but this will show little about how a learner designs and carries out a scientific inquiry. However, a performance assessment would resemble what scientists do in their work lives. It would require learners to create a hypothesis, collect and record data, draw conclusions, and so forth.
Assessing higher-order thinking demands that learners be engaged in complex activities that require them to select and effectively use appropriate thinking strategies. Costa and Kallick (2000) describe the challenge of assessing thinking.
Performance assessments, such as reports, multimedia presentations, models, and dramatic performances, are engaging, authentic, and give learners opportunities to show what they know in their particular learning styles. They also give teachers who are looking for it, a wide variety of information about learners’ content knowledge, thinking skills, and collaboration and research processes.
Although some cognitive operations such as reasoning and problem solving may be assessed using tests…cognitive operations generally require demonstration and performance in real-life problem-solving and decision-making tasks. To make a pattern of intellectual behaviours habitual requires time--time beyond that required for one problem-solving task, one lesson, one unit, one class, or even one school year. Therefore, assessment strategies must be designed to gather data about increasing and spontaneously applying habits of mind over time and in a rich variety of contexts (p. 117-118).
< Return to Types of Assessment