Shifting to Assessment As Learning

How did I do teacher? Did I do it right? Is this what I am supposed to do?  These are the questions that I have heard over and over my entire career. I began to wonder why is it that my students always need to have me tell them how they are doing. As my understanding of good assessment practices evolved, so did my understanding of assessment as learning. This is the ultimate goal of what effective assessment practice strives to create in learners.

Once students not only know what they are doing, but what a successful product looks like (success criteria), they shift from teacher focussed to student directed. At first my practice consisted of the criteria being established by me and then shared with my students. As I continued to enhance my understanding of effective assessment practice (Damian Cooper – Talk About Assessment 2006) I began to experiment with student created criteria. Lo and behold, not only did my students get it, they now owned it and the task became contextually valid to them.

My current pedagogy that I am phasing into my practice is a daily debrief on the day’s learning. I will often use it at our final circle time of the day, journal writing or individual conferencing. The following questions are my guide:

What did you learn today?                 How do you know you learned it?

How well did you learn it?                  What helped you learn it?

What did you find difficult to learn today?                     Why?

What could you do tomorrow to make it easier to learn?

Where can you use what you learned today?

I usually choose two questions and focus on a specific area. What did you learn in mathematics today? I am very happy with the beginning results I am obtaining. I have just recently started to take a few notes from the discussion and remind students the following day so that they can use their own feedback to assist with the new day’s learning.

If you have any other prompts or guiding questions that you use, please post them for other to use.  

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The Author

Mike Beetham

I am currently entering my 32nd year of teaching and work with the Waterloo Region District School Board in an area behaviour class. I am actively involved with ETFO at both the local and provincial level. My passions are my family, teaching, the outdoors and personal fitness.

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