Are lecturers judges who decide whether their pupils deserve promotion or rejection or are they farmers shaping a fertile soil in which to grow?
We are definitely doing something wrong in the assessment if at the end of the semester there are only students who are tired, unmotivated, stressed and on the verge of a nervous breakdown because of their final tasks, who value memory more than learning itself. Many lecturers give an assessment to see if pupils are keeping up or not, forgetting that the assessment also serves to get an idea of the quality of teaching. But what is the role of teachers?
It is very important to distinguish between the concepts of assessment and grading. A grade is only a consequence of evaluation; very often, a number that says little. Yet evaluation is another way to learn. There is little or no point in giving one when it provides no information on how to improve.
The role of teachers: evaluating to learn
Evaluation is, or should be, an opportunity to put your knowledge into practice, to express ideas. A moment to stimulate doubts and questions. This makes sense when the teacher is at the service of the learner, when the corrector uses the red pen to highlight doubts and give errors only the appearance of a starting point. When assessment is expressed simply to give a grade and not to stimulate improvement, it turns into a sad and meaningless act.
Nowadays, in many countries there is a widespread idea that teachers should focus more on skills than on content. Not everything that is taught needs to become an object of evaluation, nor is everything learned evaluable. Teaching is not just a question of knowledge, but of ways of thinking. Learning is not only about accumulating knowledge, but about internalizing it and integrating it into one’s own way of thinking.
Tasks that aim to give a grade and the role of teachers
Many tasks consist of storing and repeating content. Easy to submit, easy to correct. They are part of a learning model in which parents and teachers expect pupils to repeat what they have given or observed, not what they have discovered, thought or imagined.
On the other hand, one thing that many people ignore is that a task or question has enormous power: to capture the pupil’s attention. An aspect that is shrouded in a kind of mystery and that many people strive to limit, leaving little time for the pupil to answer. In this sense, a well planned task can be a continuation of the pupil’s learning process, time to reflect on what he or she has read and heard.
Few times, moreover, have to do with personal or social content, in favour of purely scholastic content. They do not work on basic skills and are carried out automatically, without thinking critically about the answers.
Evaluate using the evaluation headings
As evaluation tasks diversify in favour of skills development, precise evaluation tools can also be used. There are a number of different tools used for the assessment of learning outcomes, but the headings stand out among them, which are worthy of attention precisely because of their versatility and teaching potential.
The headings are guides to grade, and are used to assess the commitment of students who describe the specific characteristics of a product, project or task, based on the different levels achieved by the performance. All this in order to clarify what is expected from the student’s work, as well as to assess the student’s performance and to make it easier to give feedback.
Advantages for students
Pupils will receive more detailed information than other tools (feedback) and will know the evaluation criteria in advance. Some of these criteria stimulate learning and self-assessment, promote global understanding and development of various skills.
Benefits for the teaching staff
They are easy to use and explain to pupils and increase the objectivity of the evaluation process. They offer feedback on the effectiveness of the teaching methods used. They are versatile and adaptable to the needs of the competence assessment process.
A new way of understanding assessment: the role of teachers
Formative evaluation is democratic and at the service of teaching and learning. It is very valuable when we need to be able to rely on useful and relevant information, focusing on both processes and contexts involved in teaching and learning. An effort must be made to recover the meaning of the terms assessment and attribution of a grade.