How are assessments used?

The word assessment has become a bad word in education, especially among students. When they hear the word they automatically think of everything negative about the word. Test. Quizzes. Bad grades. Anxiety. Low self confidence. Feeling of being dumb. Comparison. Hours of studying. All of these things make the idea of learning miserable for students in our classrooms. What is even worse for students is being assessed in a class that they cannot stand or find no value in. There is no question that History is a subject that students either love or hate in high school. Some view it as a waste of time because they are basically being asked to spit out a long list of facts and dates rather than seeing the deeper, complex nature of history.

Assessment should be a tool of measurement that both the teacher and student benefit from. The idea of assessment being either for or of learning is an integral part of the process of learning. During any sporting event, if a team is losing they assess what is going wrong and they use that information to alter their approach to the game. Most teams, hopefully do not wait to lose the game to see where they could have done something differently to win. Learning and assessment is very similar. Assessment that is for learning is a way to evaluate what can be changed quickly to ensure the greatest opportunity for success. When we do assessment of learning we look at how well the strategy worked and how well the systems played together.

It is important to remember that although assessment is a necessary thing, that we work on making it as enjoyable, and beneficial as possible. Formative assessments do not have to be just quizzes or test, but can be call and response. An inquiry lesson is a great avenue for this. Creating an outlet for students to reveal what they know through analyzing historical pieces is a great way to assess what your students do and do not understand. History should be intriguing for students and with that comes engaging assessment. In the article on Teaching History the author wrote, “be sure to ask a question that elicits historical debates, not moral judgments”. Finding ways to assess our students by allowing them to engage, interact, and invest in the material they are learning is only going to bring a more positive perspective on assessment.