Assessment of Students’ Learning without Tests
Assessment of Students’ Learning without Tests [ Education Magazine ]

In order to boost students’ creativity, it is very important to challenge them with innovative educational procedures and encourage them to enhance learning through products of their own design. For any teacher, it is necessary to make sure that students learn thoroughly. An important step towards the same is by assessing their performance regularly. But, this does not necessarily have to involve taking tests. Most of the time, students simply memorize the text and spew it out during tests, which does not allow them to connect with and reflect on a text.

Learning through Demonstrating

Teachers can inculcate various values and knowledge about good practices among the students through various topics covered in the classroom. They can spread any message of social awareness using novels, prose, poetry, and so on, which they can explain to the students. For example, while conducting a class on any novel, they can ask students the question, ‘Why are we learning this?’. This will challenge them to brainstorm, plan, create, finalize, and present their work in a properly arranged manner.

In language classes, teachers can ask students questions, which could be used with any novel. They can be asked to demonstrate their understanding of the subject matter in a creative way that uses various elements like evidence, reasoning, and understanding. They can use various characters from different plays and ask the students to symbolize them like naming different characters from Hamlet or Macbeth as animals or birds, based on their nature.

Such practices can help students to empathize with characters and critically and insightfully connect to literature using textual evidence. It helps students to have a clear idea of what is expected from them. As a result, the entire classroom can work towards collaborative, experiential, problem-based, and standards-driven learning. When students realize that active participation can lead to higher grades in the classroom, they will wholeheartedly invest themselves in the task at hand. Understanding the assignment and the quality criteria can assist them to brainstorm as a group. It will nurture teamwork, spark creativity, and give wings to their imagination.

While guiding the students, teachers can ask them various questions like, ‘How can you use your individual strengths to collaborate and accomplish group tasks?’, or ‘How would you utilize the given parameters to your advantage?’. While working, some students may stray away from the task at hand. In such cases, the teachers can remind them that each individual has equal responsibility towards completing the task properly. They should make sure that every student is provided with the opportunity to voice their opinions and come up with their own solutions. Assigning each student with responsibilities and setting a certain deadline for the task will bear better results. Consequently, it will make the students feel in charge of their studies and will encourage them to come up with innovative learning procedures.

Moreover, school authorities can also organize various science and social science exhibitions. Participating in such events will enhance students’ understanding about various topics and also draw their interest towards studies. If they are allowed to review each other’s work placed around a room for demonstration, it will promote the practice of healthy criticism among them for better outcomes.

Learning through Reflection

An effective way of enhancing learning is through debriefing about a certain activity to be conducted in the classroom. This creates a room for the students to offer feedback to one another, and share necessary information about the activity. If conducted properly, classroom discussions can play an effective role towards solving various academic problems and open the doors for exploring innovative learning procedures. Teachers can assist by asking questions to the students such as: ‘How did you start solving the problem?’, ‘How did you distribute the roles?’, ‘How could you have ensured better usage of timing?’, and so on. This will help students to assess their performance and take steps accordingly to improve the same for future endeavors.

Further, in classrooms, teachers can ask various metacognitive reflection questions like, ‘How did you tackle this project?’, ‘What was your role in accomplishing it?’, ‘Would you do the same way or differently next time?’. This will provide a major boost to the whole class’ reflective process and encourage students to perform well and investigate their own process and critical thinking.

Allowing the students to explore their innovative streak and incorporating fun and games into education can work wonders for schools. Tests and examinations are a crucial part of a student’s life. They act as a benchmark for one’s academic performance and allow them to prepare for better results. However, the aforementioned educational maneuvers can help to assess a student’s academic performance, in addition to tests.

– Ananda Kamal Das

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