Task 2

Posted by James on Dec 6, 2015
Formative assessment
I really enjoyed the video itself and the main point that I’d like to take from it and discuss is that “There is no such thing as a formative assessment just assessment that is formative”.  This is obviously a broad statement but proves a point. If you look at the standard way in which schools assess how much there students have learnt over a topic/module/lesson. Which is to give the students a test on what was taught, collect it in, mark it and give the students a grade then move on to the next topic. From that process how can the student improve? What has the student gained? As a guess the student has no idea what resources they could access to re-cover what was taught in the lesson they missed two weeks ago or to solve that particular problem they just can’t seem to work out. Secondly the student may have be told “well done you got a B” but this tells the student relatively little other than that they got about 65-70% of the answers correct.
There is no point of assessment if it doesn’t achieve something, it doesn’t necessarily have to be just for the students either. The teacher could use it to see how well they taught that particular topic and how they could improve the lessons. It could be used to identify which student needs a little extra help or some one-to-one to really crack that topic. For the students it is invaluable as it is proven that students will improve greatly when given feedback and that is constructive, (tells them where they went wrong and how to fix it) forward looking ( how they can improve next time) and where they can go from here. Of course the improvement only happens when the students engage with the feedback.
After reading the article written by Richard R. Skemp on Relational Understanding, my thoughts are that teachers face a dilemma. Teacher’s performance management, jobs and future prospects are based on a certain pass rate with constant changes to the curriculum or syllabus. It is so much easier for the teacher to teach instrumentally rather than relationally as students get the topic/idea so much faster and get the answers in the textbook/exam right, so why bother to teach relationally? Instrumental teaching is quick and easy. “Two negatives make a positive” and “the area of a triangle is ½ base x height” are laws or tips and tricks rather than teaching why multiplying two negatives gives a positive, so the students understand why and can use that understanding to answer a question that doesn’t fit the mold of the textbook, homework or standardised test. At the other end of the problem is that not many students want to learn why, as it can be time consuming and complicated. From a very early age students are conditioned to think they must get good grades to be successful in their future whether that is at A-levels or University. This drive of getting grades is pushing students into learning quick “tricks” to pass the exam rather than take the time to learn why we have the rule, and this means that retention of knowledge is lower and when going deeper into the topic students can start to struggle. An example of this is as I often hear from friends that they got an A in their maths GCSE’s/A-level but could never do it now.

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