Assessment as evidence of learning

I’m really stuck on the idea of building evidence for inquiry-based learning right now. Until I have adequate evidence that inquiry-based learning is effective in ways that other teaching methods are not, our lack of proof is a barrier to change.  As a parent, I would require evidence that inquiry leads to deeper understanding.  So each one of the assessments that happen at diagnostic, formative and reflective stages to check for understanding can be used as this evidence.  Harada (2010) says assessment is different from evaluation “in that assessment is conducted as an ongoing activity that provides crucial formative information about what the student is learning and how that learning is taking place” (p. 9).   If our school community and its stakeholders can get comfortable with assessment that is not necessarily quantitative, then learning can really take place.  Sooner or later the evaluation process will need to change as well so that we’re not all racing to have some quantitative measurement of learning quarterly.    This might look like a portfolio of work, physical and online, that demonstrates the evidence.  The communication might be a series of rubrics that can be shown at parent-teacher conferences, and by whole school leadership teams.  Before this evidence can be shown, teacher-librarians will need to lead the way in this new culture of inquiry.  The chart at the bottom of page 16 which demonstrates moving from a focus on resources to a focus on student learning shows some of the shifts in the school culture.  I have been involved in the formative work in my social science and science classes and have offered to do the evaluation and only 3 teachers have taken me up on it so far.  The conversations that we have, almost as if we had performed moderated marking together, were so rich.  It helped me to understand where each student and their teachers were at.  I’ve never even stayed for parent-interview night since becoming a teacher-librarian but maybe these evidence folders will help me to buy myself a seat at the table again.

References

Harada, V. H., & Yoshina, J. M. (2010). Assessing for learning: Librarians and teachers as partners (2nd ed.) Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

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