Assessing my assessing

So this month’s requirement from the Digital Literacy Practitioner course is to write a ‘reviewing and reflecting’ piece on assessment/.

I’m going to use the recent blog project carried out by the Level 2 apprentices as my example.  They produced two groups blogs (here and here) as part of the ICT ESW which is the closest thing we currently deliver to ‘digital literacy’, although it only really covers the Information Literacy and Productivity strands, with a bit of Collaboration.

Review the assessment process.

We’ve been using this method a long time and have refined it quite a bit over the years.  As an assessment method, this project based learning is very comprehensive in coverage and nicely holistic, but at a cost of being utterly enormous in terms of marking workload, with at least half a dozen file uploads making up each submission.

The elements of a ‘good’ assessment environment as outlined in the course syllabus are below with some consideration of how well this task meets them.

Engaging and positive are in the most part is met by allowing learners flexibility in their choice of topic for this unit.   This task is collaborative but mainly face to face collaboration which is low-level in terms of the diglit standards.  It also presents challenges for some learners either through preference or particular needs which raises issues of accessibility.  Physical and literacy needs however are met with WordPress being cross platform and well supported by screen readers etc, we also have tools such as Ginger available for literacy support.  The assessment is planned both as part of an overall scheme of work, holistic mapping to both NVQ units, ESW and the Employment Rights and Responsibilities unit, and learners do their own planning about content as well so this element is well covered.

Review how the assessment process measures digital literacy learner progress.

This is a summative assessment for ESW at Level 1 which is a pass/fail criteria-based qualification.  As the work for this can go through several draft a lot of formative assessment also takes place, this is mostly by email.  We are discouraged from giving direct advice about corrections as learners are required to show how they proofread and improved their own work but one technique I often use is to take and anonymise common errors from the group, project them on the whiteboard and have the group call out corrections.  This is useful as we are also encouraged to treat (traditional) literacy as an embedded topic across all assessments.

The most common pieces of formative feedback given are around use of keywords and checking of copyright which often improve from Entry Level 3 to Level 1 during the course.  (Approximately, based on most recently seen draft standards!)

Reflect on how assessment improvements can be made.

One piece of advice given to me on a previous piece of work was to include some suggested formative questions into the actual lesson plans as prompts.   For this task this could include questions like:

  • Can you use that image?
  • How do you know?
  • Why did you choose those keywords?  That link?
  • What did you have to change if you didn’t find the information first time?

I also read a selection of education blogs which often have great assessment ideas and have taken to searching back through the feed (for example for ideas for this blog post!)  Two that sprang out as useful were:

X Different Ways of Responding to Formative Feedback – I especially like the notion of getting them to compare their ‘answer’ with another learners – for this example this might be searching for the top tech news story and discussing which one they and a partner selected.

Assessments that Don’t Suck  – some great multimedia ideas here (although all even more time consuming than the blog!)

Another interesting approach is trying to predict possible student errors and then making a note when marking of who used which strategies and made which mistakes in order to plan future learning.  A maths teacher I follow is using this in a very interesting way, shown here.

Incorporate feedback into future assessment process.

Not had the chance to implement any of these yet – time is always the enemy of change!  The ‘adding questions to lesson plans’ I’ll do gradually over time, updating them as I use them.

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