27 March 2013

On the assessment game

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

Items to Share: 24 March

Education Focus
  • 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?"
Other Business
  • 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”. 
  • 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." 

18 March 2013

Items to Share: 17 March

Education Focus
  • 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) 
Other Business
  • 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!”' 

11 March 2013

Items to Share: 10 March

Education Focus
Other Business
  • 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.
  • 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.)

04 March 2013

Items to Share: 3 March

Education Focus

  • 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’." 
Other Business