Research on assessments and performance tasks

Some research on assessments, from Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998). Inside the black box: raising standards through classroom assessment. London: King’s College London School of Education.

Effectiveness of learning:

  • Teachers’ tests encourage rote and superficial learning.
  • The questions and methods used are not shared between teachers, and they are not critically reviewed in relation to what they actually assess.
  • There is a tendency to emphasize quantity of work and to neglect its quality in relation to learning.

Impact of assessment

  • The giving of scores and the grading function are overemphasized, while the giving of useful advice and the learning function are underemphasized.
  • Approaches are used in which students are compared with one another, the prime purpose of which seems to them to be competition rather than personal improvement; in consequence, assessment feedback teaches low-achieving students that they lack “ability,” causing them to come to believe that they are not able to learn.

Managerial role of assessment

  • Teachers’ feedback to students seems to serve social and managerial functions, often at the expense of the learning function.
  • Teachers are often able to predict students’ results on external tests because their own tests imitate them, but at the same time teachers know too little about their learning needs.
  • The collection of marks to fill in records is given higher priority than the analysis of students’ work to discern learning needs; furthermore, some teachers pay no attention to the assessment records of their students’ previous teachers.
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