About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Assessment and preparing for the 21st century

As I am trying to get finish up my grading, issues of assessment and evaluation keep coming up.

Some of the questions/problems/issues I am dealing with include:

Should we be using rubrics? Don't they limit creativity and motivation? My students will only do what is on the rubric. I am restricted to grading them only on the rubric. So some students who just do a mediocre non-creative job may get the same grade (or higher because I used the rubric) than those that used more creativity, not really doing what I outlined as expected, but addressing the problem in a whole new way.

If this is what we are training our future workers to do, we will have the "best" workers (those with the highest grade) doing only what their managers told them to do, thus stifling the possibilities and creativity of our workers.

Should we be telling our students our expectations for every assignment, giving them detailed instructions? How many times have you received detailed instructions on the job? Shouldn't we be creating the skill to negotiate "outcomes" with our superiors?
Situations change, factors we can't control require us to change outcomes, and there might be a disconnect between strategists and front line workers. Companies would benefit if workers and managers began to communicate about outcomes be and open to the changing environment.

If graduates only expect to do the work that a manager has outlined for them, an organization loses incentive, ideas, and reality checks from both those at the top and those on the front line.

Should all grading be "fair"? How is "fair" defined and aren't there instances when a standardized means of evaluation is in fact "unfair"? I have students that excel in class. They are engaged, apply concepts or take ideas to new levels. But they don't "evaluate" well. Neither papers nor tests get at their level of understanding that I see in class. They do the work, but it does not translate into their grades. Is this fair? They will be great employees on day. In addition to their academic work, they are good team players, contribute to the class, have a good work ethic, act responsibly in class, and add to an overall good environment. Others that test well are over critical, stifle others ideas, create a negative environment, and really don't do much work, but are good writers and/or good test takers. I'd rather have the ones that don't grade well than those that do grade well. So how fair am I in my assessment?

So, a word of warning to all those in the training and HR departments: make sure you are using other measures to identify the ideal employees. GPA's don't really reflect a student's potential. A word of warning to educators: we need to re-evaluate how we assess in the current climate of "standardization." We may be doing our society a dis-service.


Nancy White said...

I can't help but contrast the constraints you are given to the approach used by Benjamin Zander with his music students, which is to give everyone the top mark as they walk into the door then challenge them to "keep it."

Where did we get things so backwards that we have to teach to a narrow slot of "information" and skills?

V Yonkers said...

Actually, in my one class, I give my students a more positive approach. Because one of the courses I teach is a core course with students with a wide variety of strengths and weaknesses, I give them assignments that if they complete them all are worth 375 points. Students can only receive 200 points, so they decide which assignments to do. They also have mandatory assignments (worth a total of 500 points) which they all must complete.

They receive a passing grade if they do their mandatory assignments well. But they can't receive an "excellent" or "very good" level grade unless they do at least some of the additional assignments. Some students are content with just the passing. But many work to get the higher grades. They like having a choice of which projects they feel will help them the most.

As you can imagine, this can get very complicated, so I am very strict at the due dates with students not allowed to submit work past the due date. As it is their option to do it, there is no penalty if they DON'T complete an optional assignment.

Nancy White said...

It sounds like they are lucky to have you as their teacher.