Assessment exists for the student, not for the instructor. At their worst, assessment systems put students in a competition with their peers. At their best, they provide a way for students to gauge their progress and to see how far they’ve come, give them an honest accounting of where their skills fit into the bigger picture and allow them to plot a roadmap for further learning.
I’ve been doing a lot of work this spring and summer updating our student assessment system. Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the details and discussing our soon-to-be-announced certification program, I want to examine the bigger question first; why we assess at all.
We’ve run semester programs with and without formal assessment systems, and have found that students performed better and had better retention when we made demands on them in the form of an assessment system.
Assessing progress allows learning to be much more systematic, and courses to be less show-and-tell and more of a focused learning experience. A good instructor knows where students should be by the end of the course, and that getting them there is a journey. Good assessment creates a roadmap for that journey that can be revisited throughout the student’s life.
In addition to making some changes to how students document their learning on our immersion programs, we’ve written up the nuts and bolts of our practical exam. All of this is included in our soon-to-be-announced certification program. Stay tuned.