Grade Authentic Responses

I see teachers, in the current virtual teaching modality, struggling with student assessment. I have some thoughts on that.

First – grades are only as good as the test and do nothing to increase happiness. It is that- happiness that we need more of in the classroom. It is the only logical response to the mass global trauma that everyone is going through. Trauma changes the way your brain functions; it is not making logical choices, not everything is connecting fully.

I understand that people feel a need for control and the response goes to the authoritarian, information processing, teacher strategies that may have been handed down through teacher induction, mentoring, and systemic ideas about what education was.

Second – I have been asked this question multiple times:

How can we stop students from cheating on their at-home testing. My response, really goes to the core of, what are you teaching?

The problem: Teachers, why are you testing students on things that can be googled? Regardless of the constraints you place on them, time limits, screen-casting to document and monitor the test, locked google forms, and even education software that promises to manage it for you, students will find a way to cheat if they want. And then you still have to verify their work. This, at its core, is not the job of the teacher. That’s what a proctor does.

Here is a solution:  Why not give an exam that requires original creative thinking? Ask a question that gives the answer and the student must come up with the question. Ask for a book summary in the form of a monologue from the second most important character. Ask a riddle that has no answer (aside from the creative response that applies authentic connection with the material). Move the quiz into an oral defense of the work. With google we can use Blooms taxonomy to move beyond the facts and analysis (and the former style of info-processing teaching) and move into creation and synthesis. Test students on that.

When you engage students authentically, with personalized material, you increase the chances of intrinsic motivation. That is a key to happiness.

Author: David Orace Kelly

International Teacher - Arts and Education Leader

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