21st Century Learning – Assessment for Learning

On April 25, 2011, in Pedagogy, by Clive Roberts

Clearly the way our young learners learn is changing and continues to do so. It is also clear that the way we, as educators, ‘teach’ our young learners is also changing – or should be changing as we respond to the needs of our 21st Century learners.

Steven Pearce’s recent blog post at http://innovativescholar.com/ outlines some of the ways schools are adopting new methods of discovery based, problem based and challenged based learning to engage learners and provide them with valuable 21st Century skills.

But what of assessment?

Is assessment necessary? …. and if so how should we assess today’s young learners?

Hopefully, long gone are the days of rote learning and the teacher simply filling empty vessels with knowledge that is later regurgitated in a test or examination so that a student can ‘make the grade’.

Using only Assessment of Learning is becoming outdated …. Assessment for Learning (AfL) is becoming increasingly important. The emphasis has changed from assessing students purely to provide a grade to using assessment as a tool to provide feedback to improve the whole learning experience.

Apple use an interesting analogy in their Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow (ACoT) when understanding AfL or informative assessment:

‘Consider the student as gamer. She is motivated to play because she gets feedback every few seconds. That feedback entices and enables her to “stay in the game,” provided she has learned from prior experiences, monitors the current situation, pays attention to the constant feedback, and reacts quickly enough. “Failure” simply provides her a quick break before she gets back into the game-with renewed effort, new data, and new resolve to achieve new plateaus’.

As the way our young learners learn becomes more discovery, problem and challenged based they are becoming more collaborative using technology and learning online. Feedback may be generated from a wide range of sources, such as virtual learning environments, wiki development, blog responses, discussion boards, text messaging, audio/video responses etc. Learners are now creating and publishing multimedia and web content that may receive feedback from peers, teachers, parents and family, experts or any other members of the Internet community.

So how are you assessing your young learners? Are you using:

Self assessments?
Peer reviews?
Teacher observations?
Student-teacher conferences?
Interim product analysis? (based on rubrics)
Appropriate Assessment Rubrics?

Obviously there is a lot more to assessment than this discussion allows – but hopefully this post will stimulate your thoughts on 21st Century – Assessment for Learning. I’d love to hear them – Please do let me know by posting a comment.

Here are a few useful links:

Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow

Learning in the 21st Century – Independent Thinking

Assessment for Learning dot com

UK Government Assessment for Learning Strategy

Assessment for Learning (AfL) in the Primary Framework

New Assessment Paradigms for 21st Century Learning

21st Century Learning in Schools – A Case Study

A Charter for 21st Century Learning in Ireland