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Why do we assess learning?

April 10, 2020

The Latin verb assidere means ‘to sit with’. This verb led to the powerful concept of assessment. To assess our learners means to sit with them to understand the gap between where they are currently and where the learning outcome intends their performance to be. The idea is to inform the learner; and to make suitable adjustments to the teaching-learning so that the learner is now able to achieve the intended learning outcome. Needless to say, assessment is a process – it is a regular gathering of evidences of learning and using them to inform the teaching-learning so that the learners can meet the learning goals.

 

In the figure below you can see how the process works:

 

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The process starts with the teacher (sometimes with the learner) determining the learning goal and, often working with the learners to determine the criteria for success. Having understood the intended outcome and what success it actually looks like; the teacher can work with the learner to identify the gap and work on ways to close the learning gap.

 

The trick lies in getting the learners to become active agents in their learning! If learners learn to constantly identify their potential goals, determine ways to get there, assess their progress, and work on their gaps – we have created lifelong learners. Creating lifelong learners is an indispensable 21st Century education aim!