In this HASTAC forum, three Scholars invite you to consider evaluation and assessment in the face of new forms of digital media, new kinds of skills and technologies, and the ever-changing landscape of education and academia.
Grading 2.0: Evaluation in the Digital Age
As the educational and cultural climate changes in response to new technologies for creating and sharing information, educators have begun to ask if the current framework for assessing student work, standardized testing, and grading is incompatible with the way these students should be learning and the skills they need to acquire to compete in the information age. Many would agree that its time to expand the current notion of assessment and create new metrics, rubrics, and methods of measurement in order to ensure that all elements of the learning process are keeping pace with the ever-evolving world in which we live. This new framework for assessment might build off of currently accepted strategies and pedagogy, but also take into account new ideas about what learners should know to be successful and confident in all of their endeavors.
How do we better align grading and assessment techniques so that they are more in line with how students learn today? The traditional 'teach to the test' evaluation paradigm continues to produce a classroom experience that focuses on specifically 'testable' results. That testing paradigm is also disconnected from all of the creative, production, remixing, and networking skills that students are developing through their everyday engagement with new media. Another issue is that the traditional assessment system tends to measure students individually and via multiple-choice and written-response questions. As teaching practices evolve to include more team-based projects that involve the use of smart tools to solve problems or communicate ideas, it will become increasingly difficult to assess students in the traditional ways. Furthermore, current widely-used tests are not designed to gauge how well students apply their knowledge to new situations.
In addition, how can digital media be used to develop new grading and assessment strategies? For example, last year, Cathy Davidson posted a blog entry here on HASTAC, called How to Crowdsource Grading. It outlined her course and the development of a new grading rubric, and student assessment techniques, to better work with her students in the classroom and in their course blog. The course was built around the idea of self-motivation, peer-to-peer review and a very clearly outlined contract for students on what each grade represented. This post attracted lots of commentary -- prompting her to write a response, called Crowdsourcing Authority in the Classroom. There are hundreds of other experiments such as these around the country, in elementary schools, high schools, college classrooms, corporate environments, and even feedback systems for nonprofits and municipalities. And there are more and more researchers thinking through these issues. There is clearly a great amount of interest in developing new technologies, and new forms of pedagogy, to better reflect grading, peer interaction and learning in the digital age -- help us think through these questions, experiments and strategies!
How to grade, assess, teach, learn and structure the learning experience for students in the digital age?
Many interesting projects are working on this question, and we invite you to share others with us below. For example:
- The Learning Record, a portfolio-based evaluation system designed to emphasize student learning, not product-based outcomes
- Nils Peterson and his colleagues at the Center for Teaching, Learning, & Technology (at Washington State University) have been working on developing new assessment strategies and forms of classroom engagement
- Pecha Kucha in the classroom - reframing the presentation from the unstructured long-form speech to the conversation-starting breakdown
- Digital Youth Research was a 3 year project to investigate how kids use technology and media in their everyday learning. They have reports available on their site, and the group recently published a book, Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out.
- Re-mediating assessment, a blog considering participatory assessment models in education, authored by Daniel T. Hickey, Michelle Honeyford, and Jenna McWilliams (Indiana University).
- The DML Research Hub, funded by a MacArthur grant, is supporting two projects. One, lead by Mimi Ito, is called Distributed Learning Research Network, and works on distributed learning that happens in social environments. The other, lead by Joseph Kahne, is called Youth, New Media, and Public Participation Research Network, and investigates the ways that youth, through social and political participation in online communities, affects their capacity and motivation to engage in social and political issues.
- Cathy Davidson and David Theo Goldberg's report, The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age (also available as a free PDF). The report found that students are learning in deeply collective and innovative ways, and that learning institutions - schools - have to keep up or risk obsolescence. They offer ten principles for redesigning learning institutions and pedagogical systems to better reflect the way students learn today. The book-length version of the project, The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age will be coming out in 2010.
We invite you to join us as we discuss:
1. Technology & Assessment:
- How can educators leverage the affordances of digital media to create more time-efficient, intelligent, and effective assessment models?
- How can we use new technologies and new understandings of mind and cognition to help us build better metrics, rubrics, etc.?
- What can emerging technologies teach us about evaluation methods? What would the perfect evaluation tool for user-generated content look like?
2. Assignments & Pedagogy:
- How can we develop assignments, projects, classroom experiences, and syllabi that reflect these changes in technology and skills?
- What does it mean to design a course that takes seriously the idea that learning can happen through these digital technologies, new models for grading & evaluation, and new media skills?
- How can we prepare our students for the kind of social, global, collaborative work in many of todays professional work environments?
- Of course, developing and implementing these strategies takes a great deal of time and effort on the teacher's part. With ever-increasing stresses on teachers, professors and departments, how can we support innovators who are already crunched for time and energy?
3. Can everything be graded?
- How important is creativity, and how do we deal with subjective concepts in an objective way, in evaluation?
4. Assessing the assessment strategies:
- How do we evaluate the new assessment models that we create?
- What is consistent about all of these forms of evaluation? What are the constants in evaluation and grading?
- The huge problem of unequal access to technology and digital literacy needs to be considered - how do we account for these differences within our classrooms, schools, and countries?
What are your strategies and experiments?
We're thrilled that HASTAC and the Scholars program are supporting these types of peer-to-peer conversations and are providing the online space to collectively share our strategies, ideas and experiences so that we might learn from each other.
A special welcome to the members of the Office of Assessment and Innovation at WSU who will be joining us in the comments!
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