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A passion for assessment

Research has shown that a systematic approach to assessment for learning can increase learning outcomes for learners, which makes it a priority area in education. We talked to itslearning's assessment expert Inger Alice Andersen about assessment for learning. But first, what is assessment for learning?

Inger Alice refers to Professor Dylan Wiliam when explaining the concept. Wiliam defines assessment for learning as "high quality information collected by teachers in the middle of teaching to adjust their teaching to better meet their students learning needs."

The key is what you do together with your students, and how you promote learning through assessment and feedback.

"We teachers assess many assignments, tests and presentations, but perhaps we should ask ourselves whether the time spent corresponds with the expected learning effect," Inger Alice says. "Perhaps we spend too much time and energy on assessing after the learning has taken place and too little time on on-going evaluation?”

Not time-consuming

Many teachers relate assessment with excessive paper workloads and written documentation, but it doesn't necessarily have to be like this. Physical education teachers are often experts on assessment for learning – often without knowing it themselves – because they aim to create a feeling of mastery in their students, and provide them with good feedback, such as concrete advice on how to improve and exercise, to achieve this. The physical education teacher acts like a coach rather than a referee. The most important assessment takes while learning is taking place, not after students have finished learning.

"Of course we must continue to assess results and provide thorough feedback on larger work, but we must not forget that assessment for learning embraces more than this," Inger Alice explains. "Most teachers are working with assessment for learning in some form, but this work can often be more systematic and goal-oriented."

Many seem to believe that assessment for learning is a time-bandit, but it doesn't have to be. In her courses, Inger Alice shows teachers how to adjust to other methods in their teaching.

"It's not about doing more, but how to employ new methods and techniques to do it in less time. The most important thing is to free time for planning and contact with the students."

itslearning and assessment for learning

Teachers need different methods for mapping student skills to reveal gaps in understanding – and itslearning can contribute with many tools. When students use itslearning actively in their learning, the teacher gets a lot of information on how to change direction or adjust their teaching. It's often as simple as asking the right questions to reveal what the students have understood.

Student participation is central in assessment work, and itslearning provides great possibilities for both self-assessment and peer assessment. Many teachers are well acquainted with the itslearning tools, but need tips on how to use them creatively in regard to assessment for learning. Inger Alice shows how itslearning can be used as a learning resource for students – for example by allowing them to create tests, assess each other with the discussion tool, write blogs and use sound and video.

Inger Alice Andersen is a teacher by profession and is further educated in student assessment at Lillehammer University College. Before joining itslearning she taught at lower secondary school for 13 years. Throughout her career, she has developed a passionate engagement for assessment.

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