Dennis (1995) has pointed out that memorizing facts is not
as important as having real life skills. Good assessment, therefore,
should require learners to demonstrate what they can do. As the
year 2000 approaches, the problem of evaluating student learning
becomes increasingly complex. Not only are students expected to
master skills and content, more and more they are expected to show
competence in working collaboratively and creatively. These added
competencies are drastically changing the ways teachers must teach.
The result has been a reliance on "active learning" situations--group
work, simulations, hands-on activities, and open-ended curricula.
But active learning brings with it the challenge of finding meaningful
methods of assessment.
Tools for assessing
concepts, skills, behaviors, and final products of ETE modules include
personal student responses in the form of a short answer, an essay,
an oral presentation, a demonstration, an exhibit, or a portfolio.
A full discussion of these items is presented in the sections linked
The first step is
for you to share with students what the expected concepts, skills,
behaviors and final products are. Sharing these expectations will
show students how they may participate fully in the experiences
offered by the paths of inquiry in a module.
also be made aware of the criteria and rubrics by which their work,
especially their final products, will be assessed. It is a good
idea to develop these criteria with student input by having a class
discussion of finished examples of superior and average final products.
Once expected concepts,
skills, behaviors and final products have been identified and the
criteria and rubrics for the assessment of final products have been
demonstrated, students may begin using the ETE modules, and teachers
may begin the ongoing process of assessment.
It may seem risky
using unconventional methods of measuring achievement in ETE, when
compared to methods with which students, administrators, and parents
have been comfortable for decades. Yet being a risk taker may be
necessary for the teacher who is dedicated to active learning pedagogy.
Finally, using alternative
assessment tools may require that the teacher tolerate some ambiguity
at first. Alternative assessment tools may seem frustrating and
unsatisfactory the first time they are employed. However, as with
other skills teachers learn in the classroom, revision, practice,
and persistence may lead to excellence.