I've been listening to the audio book version of Now You See It and I am really enjoying it.
Last fall I was lucky enough to hear Cathy Davidson speak at UCDavis from my kitchen in Ontario Canada because my friend, Zack Dowell
streamed the audio through our community radio station DS106radio
. The talk was rich with great insights and I was compelled to take notes.
Since I wasn't in the room I don't know what Cathy's powerpoint looked like but her voice and delivery were captivating and the content is extremely relevant. Now as I listen to the book, I hear bits of that talk but in greater detail and in my mind, I see my visual notes
that I took. It leaves me with a lot to think about regarding attention, learning, our use of technology and the relationships we build between ourselves, knowledge and knowing.
I'm particularly taken with the chapter on assessment, "How We Measure" and have listened to it repeatedly. This weekend I finally decided I just had to doodle it out.
I work with faculty members every day. I am energized by their passion for their disciplines and fascinated by their approaches to teaching and learning. Like Professor Davidson's This is your brain on the Internet
, they are willing to try new teaching and learning strategies. Yet, come assessment time it becomes an insurmountable challenge to break through the "traditional" assessment routines. Mid-term. Essay. Quizzes. Final exam.
Someone once quipped that teaching was like being a stand-up comedian. Grading was like being the janitor who had to clean up. No one seems to enjoy traditional assessment yet most people feel it's some sort of necessary evil. It's just the way it's always been done.
Or is it?
Professor Davidson discusses society's misconceptions about this "tradition" of assessment and reveals a fascinating look at the history of the standardized test, intelligence tests and grading in general. This serves as huge caution in relying on quantitative data too heavily. What exactly are we measuring and how important is this measure today in the world we live?
She acknowledges that ways of knowing and ways of teaching need metrics of some sort but there is no universal truth intrinsic to measurement. We know this from studying the atom that looking at one part does not account for the other parts and sometimes even changes what you are looking at completely.
Our methods of assessment need to measure application of knowledge, innovation and creativity.