Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Week #2 Rhizo15 - Assessment Principles

Looking back at how a mentor relationship works, particularly in writing, it really does depend on how much effort is put in by both sides of the equation. The more invested the mentor is - the more the writer (student) will engage, learn, and push to have continued interactions. Part of it is motivation by both sides, but it also has to be measured in - does this kind of effort (on both sides) produce some writing that is fruitful? Otherwise, why would you foster a relationship that doesn't equate to a goal or success?

This brings about the next idea. If we can evaluate and try to find defined ways to measure effort rather than outcome, don't we also have to measure the effort of the guide (educator, teacher, ect) to see if that effort is equally engaged in the investment of learning? That isn't to say the volume or hours of work put in - but that the effort of the teacher is accountable to the effort of the student. Am I suggesting that this doesn't work unless both sides shows equal or grater effort than the other? Perhaps it is like a math equation:  if student effort is less than the teacher than effort values will return as failing. If student effort equals or is greater than the teacher's effort to facilitate learning, then the student will return a grade of passing or satisfactory.

But what the hell am I counting or grading. Effort? Did they do enough? How do I know? How can I measure if the path they took was valid or worth the journey?

In Tom Bourner's article Assessing Reflective Learning, he describes creating a self assessing learning. Someone who can measure the planned learning and the unplanned learning. The process or skill developed in some courses - are not foundation skills, but the ability to refine how and why they are learning and reflect on that value.
If reflective learning is not assessed it is most likely to be neglected. Assessment has been described as ‘the tail that wags the dog’. Attention follows assessment and behaviour follows attention. Most students pay most attention to what is assessed. That which is not assessed is most likely to be most neglected (Bourner).
Furthermore, in this section, he goes on to discuss how there will never be validity or legitimacy in reflective learning "until the assessment of reflective learning is secure." This is evident in some of the online courses and MOOC certifications that are in the world. Understanding the subjective nature of learning has value that needs to be assessed and developed into credits or some objective assessment of skill or ability.

He goes on to point out that subjective learning is only valuable to the learner who goes through it and that it is too subjective to quantify. He also explains that reflective learning has no foundation in past objectives achieved by others, so when learning occurs, it is not only a new subjective, but it is also always changing in relevance and importance. "In the absence of planned learning outcomes there is nothing against which to assess the learning"(Bourner).

The last important element of this article that I think is a great resources in thinking about how to assess learning that is subjective is Table 2: Questions as tools for reflective thinking. These are really good entry points into thinking about the learning process and how to make it work.

While my intention was to discuss counting and evaluation - I also began thinking, with the help of this resources, how and why subjective learning needs to be valued, given legitimacy, and made to refine the process of education and work. It might solve some our most pressing issues in higher education, like critical thinking, perseverance, motivation, and valuing the learning process.

Online learning: Are subjective perceptions of instructional context related toacademic success?


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