Reflections on Assessment

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Struggling with Assessment as a Learner. In teacher education, you are first and foremost a learner. As a learner, you are grappling with making sense of teaching and learning through the lens of your own experiences as a student: in the past, in the teacher education classroom, and as pre-interns in the K-12 classroom. Part of this sense making involves transference. Britzman and Pitt (1996) explain: 8 ‘Transference’ [refers to] the idea that one’s past unresolved conflicts with others and within the self are projected onto the meanings of new interactions. Unexpectedly, new experiences conjure old ones. Sigmund Freud described transference as ‘new editions of old conflicts.’ The classroom invites transferential relations because, for teachers, it is such a familiar place, one that seems to welcome re-enactments of childhood memories. Indeed, recent writing about pedagogy suggests that transference shapes how teachers respond and listen to students and how students respond and listen to teachers…..The problem, as Anna Freud argues, is when the repetition of transferential dynamics is not analyzed and hence resists insight into what it is that structures the teacher’s desire for the pedagogical. (p. 117) With the notion of transference in mind, discuss your own experiences with assessment and evaluation during your schooling, and unpack moments of resistance during those experiences but also in the context of teacher education and/or this class. Have you struggled at all with being asked to engage in less “traditional” forms of assessment? What about the experience was uncomfortable and/or frustrating? Can you identify any of the principles that underlie assessment at play here:

            My personal experience with assessment as a student involves a more traditional pedagogy. I grew up in a small northern community with five elementary schools and one community high school. During my elementary years, I went to a Cree community school. While there was a braiding of Indigenous pedagogy with strong cultural programing and building community relationships, the student assessment was more traditional. Standardized tests were common including multiple choice for Social Studies, true or false for English, and right or wrong for Math. The school relied on textbooks for the primary source material, along with lecturing from the teachers. The music program was well funded, insourcing dozens of violins, bongos, and drums while the students were assessed by how well they were able to remember the sheet music. My memories of elementary school involve struggling to memorize, writing down notes, and filling out workbooks.

            Since there was only one community high school in town, there was a large student population. When I was there, the assessment was much the same as when I was in elementary although there were solid efforts to try something new. The high school was able to provide more options for electives and alternative courses, such as the arts (drama, choir, band, ect.) and trades (woodwork, metals, culinary, ect.). With these “newer” programs, there was freedom for teachers as they were not relying on the “traditional” forms of assessment and evaluation. In drama, my assessment was based on how well I was able to not only memorize but preform. As a student I did find this challenging at times because I was shy and was never made to preform before. Another example would be in my global issues class, one of the assessment projects was to build an argument about a topic and then present it to class. With this task, I was given the option to record myself before hand (which I did) and then present to the class. Again, because I had no prior experience in filming and making a video, it was a difficult concept to grasp. I did appreciate being able to record it instead of presenting it live, I had stage fright even when I wasn’t taking live! Although I did have a hard time grasping these topics, this was not always about the method of assessment but the way it was presented. For example, with drama I was not given a rubric beforehand (setting up for success) so it was hard as a student to image what exactly intitled a “good performance”. This lead to some anxiety, and being unsure of myself as a student, causing me to rely more on the teacher.

February 10 2020


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