Reflection on Assessment Construction, Reporting and Feedback

Based on your personal experience, are scores able to effectively inform both teachers and students about learning progress in class?  Do teachers and students share common interpretations of scores? Or has it been a more common case that scores are mere numbers that are processed to fill in report cards?

I think it’s true that scores are generally mere numbers that are processed to fill in report cards. For many students and their parents, grades matter a lot. This is especially true for my students, who are mostly pre-med. It frustrates us biology teachers because sometimes students seem to care more about grades than learning. I understand where they are coming from because they need high grades to go to med school. But I also hope they realize that high grades achieved by strategies are empty compared to high grades achieved by actual learning.

But students are not the only ones responsible for this mindset. Teachers do not always give proper feedback to students, and so students rely on scores. Formative assessments and feedback are essential in helping students take charge of their learning. Teachers must also tell students exactly what they are looking for so students can work to achieve those learning objectives.

I think there may at times be discrepancies with how teachers and students interpret scores. Sometimes there is no discrepancy. Both the student and the teacher interpret the score as representative of how much the student has learned. Sometimes though, the student may interpret a score as how much he “got away” with not studying for something if he got a high score with minimal effort. A teacher may also interpret the score as indicative of his commendable teaching ability if all of the students get high scores. There are many ways of interpreting scores. The best use of scores, however, is to improve one’s self. The student can use the score as a measure of how well he studied for a test, and improve on it next time. The teacher, on the other hand, can use the scores of students to make his lessons better.

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