What You Think
What do we want our students to learn? — Azizi Ahmad
OCTOBER 20 — Many of us teaching in IPT spend the majority of our professional time teaching what we are supposed to teach to students who will not be the professional they want to be.
Certainly not many, we teach in general education courses, most of whom are taking will experience in their lifetimes , will use them again and over again.
Yet, educators and the profession do put up efforts to who we are teaching and to what end. No doubt we teach but we are unsure what the students are learning.
If asked, all educators will tell “of course we know what students are learning, we follow the schedules, the curriculum, and we gave assignments, test, exams, activities and grades as called for”.
Paying attention to teaching is not the same as paying attention to learning, and when the assessment is done, we often find “a masquerade”.
Grading is regularly more peculiar than efficient, less connected to particular learning results and more to an assortment of subordinate variables like participation and promptness.
Running the assessment over various segments of similar course raises doubt about the whole undertaking.
When the assessment rate in a multi-section course varies from 30 per cent to 10 per cent, same course, different trainer, you may wonder. Is there really that much variability in student learning across these sections? Or are we seeing “instructor effects?”
Question arises: What do we want our students to learn in our courses? What are our core learning outcomes? How will we know that our students achieved these outcomes?
That is, how can we assess student learning, especially learning that is cumulative across courses, such as in the undergraduate major? What percentage of our students reaches a level of proficiency?
Assessment for improvement and assessment for accountability are called for. Though the distinctions are somewhat artificial, they are important ways to how we run the assessment.
Genuine and sophisticated assessment of student learning will serve both ends: improvement of teaching practices and curriculum organisation to enhance student learning, and to keep the accountability mavens satisfied.
Clearly defining learning outcomes will help students getting the skill sets, capabilities and conceptual understandings. This will help our students and our discipline communicates to peers, parents, potential employers and others the particular and distinctive value of a degree.
Attention to assessment of student learning is something we owe our students and ourselves. We need to take education seriously. We need to collaboratively and collectively articulate the value and values of the study.
We need to share these learning outcomes with our students, explaining what we expect them to learn and then go about creatively engaging them in the study as effectively as we can. And we must engage ourselves in a sophisticated assessment of student learning.
Only through that process will we have the information we need to improve our teaching practices and our curriculum for the benefit of our students.
Abdicating this role and resisting assessment as an oppressive administrative measure leaves our discipline and our students in a weakened position.
The assessment of learning should play a leading role in convening the discipline to define broadly shared learning outcomes and assist in identifying effective methods for assessing and disseminating these shared outcomes.
* Azizi Ahmad is an educator.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online