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Showing posts from August, 2015

How Can We Have Good Assessment in College?

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Assessment is too often a dirty word in education, and for good reason. It's usually bad, done to people, and force upon faculty. It often serves no other purpose than because it is is required by accreditation agencies. Below, I hope to make the beginnings of an argument for why it may very well be necessary for good student learning. 

Recently, Erik Gilbert, an Associate Dean and Professor of History at Arkansas State University, wrote an opinion column in the Chronicle of Higher Education called, "Does Assessment Make Colleges Better? Who Knows?" It's a very good question, one I've asked myself several times during my career; however, I've usually asked it in a different way: "HOW can assessment make my college (or program) better? How can I know?" It seems, part of the answer would have to be student participation -- but I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Gilbert begins his piece with his own search for colleges for his sons. The features of any co…

Using Lectio Divina as Assessment

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Teachers of all stripes who assign peer review or peer assessments often complain that students don't know how to give helpful feedback, if they give much at all. Even when we structure feedback by providing rubrics or other heuristics to guide student assessors and what they offer their colleagues, student feedback is often less than helpful, or perceived as such by writers. To complicate matters further, many students just don't trust their peers for a variety of good reasons, (e.g., their peers aren't grading them, their peers aren't experts in writing or the topic of the class, etc.). I have found, however, that there are practices that students can do that provide helpful feedback, and that can encourage a deeper attention to that feedback by writers.

Good Feedback Starts with Good Reading
Every act of judgment must proceed from an act of reading or listening. One measure of the thoughtfulness and helpfulness of any judgment of a text is the quality of the practice…