I've been thinking quite a bit about assessment recently, partly because I'm working on a piece for the website on "assessment drift", but also because I'm currently editing the video of a very interesting keynote by Kathryn Ecclestone at our course Study Day last Saturday (references below).
So it was more than usually intriguing to get an email today from a reader of something I had written long ago on the use of essays for assessment. As a throw-away at the end of that piece, I wrote: "Incidentally, and rather self-indulgently, I had a go at one of my son's set essays a while ago, free of all the constraints about how someone might see fit to assess it. How would you mark it? (There are at least two spelling mistakes)." But the link did not work--I restored it (thereby uncovering a piece which had been effectively invisible for at least a decade), and read it again.
I still think the question it poses is interesting, and the invitation to grade the piece (preferably with reasons, and conceding the absence of "learning outcomes" and "grading criteria") stands--via comments or email. If I get enough feedback, I'll try to make sense of it in a blog post.
Ecclestone, K. (2002) Learning autonomy in post-16 education: the politics and practice of formative assessment, London: Routledge
Ecclestone, K. and Hayes, D. (2009) ‘The therapeutic FE college’, in The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education, London: Routledge
Ecclestone, K. (2010) Transforming assessment in lifelong learning, Buckingham: Open University Press
25 March 2013
- What can science tell us about how pupils learn best? | Pragmatic Education "In this blog post I want to strip cognitive science down to its essence, and apply two litmus tests: One. To what extent is the scientific research robust, peer-reviewed and rewarding when re-read? Two. To what extent does the scientific evidence have practical classroom applications that reward re-using?"
- I Came, I Saw, I Learned...: Adobe Captivate, TechSmith Camtasia Studio, Articulate Storyline: Production Times "In my experience, it will take you approximately 2 hours of labor to produce 1 minute of eLearning playtime if you use Adobe Captivate..."
- Why Americans Are the WEIRDest People in the World --and what that does to the body of psychological knowledge gained by studying them. (White, Educated, Individualistic, Rich and Democratic.) And that might link with this: The Emergence of Niceness | Synthesis The body of economic literature will have to change, suggests new research. [...]The results explain some intriguing findings in experimental economics and [the authors] call for a new economic theory of “networked minds”.
- How Your Language Affects Your Wealth and Health: Scientific American "An international study suggests languages shape how we think about the future, and how we plan for it." Interesting, but correlation ain't causation--and another example of flakey but eye-catching "research" from a Business School.
- Sign Painters: What a Disappearing Art Teaches Us About Creative Purpose and Process | Brain Pickings "Sign painting appealed to my logical nature. It’s a way to pursue art with a right and a wrong."
- Big History: David Christian Covers 13.7 Billion Years of History in 18 Minutes | Open Culture Big History is a meta discipline that “examines long time frames using a multidisciplinary approach based on combining numerous disciplines from science and the humanities.”
- Reasoning Training Increases Brain Connectivity Associated with High-Level Cognition | Beautiful Minds, Scientific American Blog Network "...these findings do serve as proof of concept that reasoning training– even as brief as 3 months– can significantly alter connectivity in a brain network critical for high-level reasoning. These findings should not be understated, as they challenge traditional notions that intelligence is fixed,.." (with caveats, of course)
- wuglife: Exploring grammar via Sesame Street. "This is some of my favourite linguistics work - taking common prejudices and expectations and showing that things are a whole lot more nuanced and impressive than that. It’s the kind of work you want to share with as many people as possible to start breaking down the very judgmental ideas many have about language."
- Marc Fisher: A Sex-Abuse Scandal at Horace Mann : The New Yorker An extraordinary tale of a real-life variant on Tartt's 'Secret History' without the murder... Update 28 March: ...and here is a different take from Ben Yagoda in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
- NCBI ROFL: Zip-related genital injury. : Discoblog "Apparently, it’s horrifyingly more common than you might think; fortunately, there are several ways to get it unstuck."
Posted by James A at 11:15 am
18 March 2013
- OFSTED Under Fire | Scenes From The Battleground "If inspectors have raked in the cash for telling schools “you must do groupwork, discovery learning and stop teachers from teaching” it makes it far less likely that they will then go into schools and act as if they have no preferred style of teaching." (Andrew Old)
- How can we tell snake oil from science? | Pragmatic Education ‘why is so much research in education purest snake oil?’
- In the Digital Era, Our Dictionaries Read Us - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education "With the spread of digital technologies, dictionaries have become a two-way mirror, a record not just of words' meanings but of what we want to know. Digital dictionaries read us."
- Jane Kramer: A History of Culinary Revolution : The New Yorker Review of Bee Wilson's "Consider the Fork", which sounds fascinating. Ignore the first few self-indulgent paragraphs, though.
- Obituary for Harry Stamps, 1932-2013 Who? Doesn't matter--clearly a great "character".
- Quite - Lingua Franca - The Chronicle of Higher Education 'How can a sensible word sometimes mean “absolutely” and sometimes mean “only moderately”?' (Geoff Pullum)
- n+1: There Is Only Awe On Julian Jaynes' strange ideas about the origin of consciousness. 'Richard Dawkins wrote that [his book] is “either complete rubbish or a work of consummate genius, nothing in between!”'
- Alfred C. Hobbs: The American who shocked Victorian England by picking the world’s strongest lock. - Slate Magazine
- Why Don’t the French Speak English? - The Daily BeastThe Odd Story of C.S. Lewis, An Extremely Odd Man - The Daily Beast What makes Lewis such a surprising figure is that he who understood so little about the emotional life can still, 50 years after his life, speak so eloquently to millions upon millions of human souls, not one of whom would have found him a soulmate if they had actually known him.
- Donald Clark Plan B: Negroponte: 10 reasons why his Ethiopian project smacks of Educational Colonialism "These parachute interventions are easy but not at all informative. Indeed, they may well be counterproductive, leading to the wrong type of spend by Governments keener on photo-opps than real learning."
Posted by James A at 1:25 pm
11 March 2013
- OFSTED Best Practice Videos | Scenes From The Battleground "Here are the recent OFSTED videos in order of terribleness with the least terrible first." See also the preceding four posts, well researched and highly critical of Ofsted. [Oh! Update.]
- Do we ‘collect’ data? or – beware the ontological slip … | patter (Pat Thomson) More interesting thoughts on educational research, this time on reification--I'm not convinced this time, however.
- Michael Sandel’s Famous Harvard Course on Justice Launches as a MOOC on Tuesday | Open Culture "In a single offering, Sandel will bring his course to more students worldwide than he did through his decades teaching at Harvard."
- Maslow Re-visited and found wanting (Dick, 2001) It's a pity that the ancient Wahba and Bridwell paper (1976), referenced here, is not available in a more legible format than here.
- Liam Heneghan – Pooh bear and the ecology of childhood In part on the most egregious act of cultural vandalism of the last century--the disneyfication of Winnie-the-Pooh.
- 'Dr. Garbage' Studies Local Tribe Many Prefer to Ignore - News - The Chronicle of Higher Education '"What do you dream to teach that no one else teaches?" an NYU administrator asked Ms. Nagle not long after she went to work there. The answer, it turned out, was trash, a fascination she traces to a garbage dump she encountered on a family camping trip when she was 10.'
- Stanford Magazine - Seeing at the Speed of Sound - March/April 2013 Fascinating piece on lip-reading
- Protesting Too Much About #OverlyHonestMethods » Sociological Images More tweets about how research really works.
- What Coke Contains — Kevin Ashton "The number of individuals who know how to make a can of Coke is zero. The number of individual nations that could produce a can of Coke is zero. This famously American product is not American at all."
- John Lanchester rides the London Underground | Books | The Guardian "Londoners treat the underground not as a stage set, a place where we're on display, but as a neutral space, one in which we don't overtly direct our attention at each other. People sneak glances at each other, of course they do, but the operative word is "sneak". They don't look openly, in the way they would elsewhere. The main focus of people's attention is inward. They go into themselves."
- This Story Stinks - NYTimes.com "Comments from some readers, our research shows, can significantly distort what other readers think was reported in the first place." (With 400 comments, some of which clearly support the hypothesis, even as they deny it.)
Posted by James A at 5:02 pm
04 March 2013
- What can we learn from John Hattie? | Pragmatic Education (Joe Kirby) "To distil the evidence base, I take Nietzsche’s advice: to say in ten sentences what others have taken entire books to say. So I summarise John Hattie’s ideas in a few sets of ten sentences: in his own words; in ten of his most helpful checklist points for teachers; and then ten of the most useful classroom insights he calls ‘signposts’."
- Critical Thinking Is Best Taught Outside the Classroom: Scientific American Principally a short plug for museums, but worth looking at.
- Len Deighton’s Bomber, the first book ever written on a word processor. - Slate Magazine in the late '60s; poses the question whether there are some kinds of books which can not be written any other way.
- Inside Robbers Cave on ABC Radio | Advances in the History of Psychology On the Sherifs' classic '50s experiments on inter-group relations--they'd never get past the ethics committee today!
Posted by James A at 2:53 pm