How Do I Mark Myself ?!?

I think that currently, the more I look at it, I’m in a unique situation.  In my pre-internship year, I’m not quite a teacher but learning to look at situations from the perspective of one.  At the same time I am still kind of in student mode and my learning curve is pretty steep right now (and if my profs are right it is only going to get steeper during my internship).  This has resulted in an interesting process as I synthesize some of the things I am learning with things I have experienced as a student.

One thing that has really been on my mind lately has been the idea of assessment.  There are three different factors that have brought this topic to my attention lately.

#1 My ECMP classmate Stacey wrote a post about her experience with assessment titled “Thoughts from an IB Mind”

#2  Stacey’s post caused me to become more aware of how assessment is probably the largest topic in #edchat.

#3   It’s the end of the semester and so assessment in some form is all everyone on campus is talking about.

In ECMP we were asked to take some time and assess ourselves and that this would be weighed heavily in our year end evaluation.  This was not a method that was unheard of to me, in fact I’ve done this same thing numerous times in group projects from high school straight through university.  Looking back however I don’t think I have ever assessed myself ‘well’.   By this I mean that as I look at things more and more from a teacher’s perspective I don’t think I was assessing my skills, learning or development as much as I sought to find a number that justified the work I did in relation to others in the class.  I wasn’t as much concerned with how I grew personally as much as I was concerned with where I fit in the hierarchy of grades in relation to the rest of the class.  Is this inherent to assessment and grading?  I know when I work hard and do good work (I usually do..really) and I know when I take shortcuts and don’t do my best but I have a hard time quantifying that with a number.  I feel like with me it is either more of a thumbs up or a thumbs down kind of thing.  Grades to me end up being a form of competition and I end up wanting to beat everyone else more than I want to see how I may have grown.

That is my perspective as a student.  As a teacher it differs slightly because as a teacher assessment is going to be a substantial part of my job.  As a teacher I think it becomes important to understand different forms of assessment, ways which give you the best picture of a student’s total learning.  I’m finding this very interesting and true within my education program.  In five classes I have had five different styles of assessment and none of them have been the classic sit down and write a two hour final typical of my biology degree.  In my ECMP class our instructor actually did the final with us (it was a four minute, self-guided, visual presentation displaying what we learned).

I’m excited for next semester to see what I will learn in the assessment classes that I will be taking.

I’m thankful that education is showing me some alternative forms of assessment in contrast to some of the traditional ways I have experienced.

I’m interested to learn from others what some alternatives to grading and ranking students there may be.  Are there any good ones?

Photo by: sitzmansitzman

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3 thoughts on “How Do I Mark Myself ?!?

  1. Good post, Cole! I’m really struggling with it as well. I have too many hats right now: I am an educator who questions assessment daily, a mom whose kids are assessed and now a student who needs to *be* assessed. I have too many jumbled thoughts about this right now to clog up your comment feed on your blog, but suffice to say that I am not entirely sure that I will be able to provide an assessment of myself for the ECMP class. It feels like if I do, I will be using some of the processes and theories that I am now questioning the validity of, if that makes any sense at all. (Jumbled, remember?)

    I want to just write an assessment that says, “Dear University: I rocked this course. Love, Trina,” 😉 because I really and truly think that I did but I don’t know how to verbalize or show that in numbers at this point!

    Good luck!

    • Yes I understand perfectly and that’s exactly what I’m struggling with. Maybe the university should just switch to using emoticons instead of numbers or something like it…

  2. I’ve been teaching for thirty years, been a school-based administrator (principal) for almost ten (stepped out of that), taught my own three children from fifth to twelfth grades, and I have no sage advice for you. The term end approaches and I comply with my system’s requirements and provide grades for academic progress and ratings for personal characteristics. The ratings are better than the misleading percentages people trust but only marginally better than a letter grade. These grades reflect specific outcomes we are required to teach at each grade level. The curriculum is helpful but it does not exactly serve the differentiated needs of our students. I do not gradethroughout the remainder of the year. Individual answers are right, wrong, or somewhere in between. I avoid generalizations that inevitably simplify or rank. Once upon a time my grade book would be filled with columns of numbers that I would add together. Now I track outcomes and keep anecdotal records. I suppose I’m free of the burden of grades because I no longer teach high school. I’m very grateful for that. If I did teach high school I would assess essentially the same and then sketch in a mark for report cards. Make no mistake about it. Grading is a flawed game.

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