Once again SI proves why it is such a good program as something that’s discussed in one class is needed in another. During class on Monday night we talked about the challenges of doing good assessments for all sorts of things from a one shot workshop to when you’re teaching a class for a longer period of time. I found that the activities we did were really powerful at showing how tricky assessment is.
We watched Jane McGonighal’s TED talk about the power of gaming and then filled in a survey about it before breaking into small groups where we classified the questions from the survey. Each group found different ways of breaking up the questions and we all found some that weren’t useful like what color was her hair and her shoes, but we also acknowledged that these details are noticed. A major section was about the physical space of the workshop, which can play a key role in how the information is absorbed. In a workshop setting that may only happen once or twice, its key to make sure that the environment isn’t terribly distracting but to figure out that data needs to be collected from other assessments. Formative assessment presents other problems because when something is only happening for one or two times it can be hard to see what change has happened and taking the time to question throughout the process can be tricky. I think assessment is truly one of the hardest parts of education because its the part that students are more willing to remember if its seen as fair or unfair. Yet it is also the one thing that can improve the quality of teaching the most by creating chances for changes that will help everyone involved.
The way this intersects with another course is that for an Outcome Based Evaluation Course, my group is going to be putting together a survey for people being trained in a process to discuss their experiences. So thinking about the types of questions to ask and the formats of how to get valuable assessment data quickly is important. My notes from Monday’s class will definitely come into play as we put together an assessment survey for this project. I think that’s what I enjoy the most about SI, things are always connecting and not in the ways I expect.
I found the McGonigal talk fascinating too, because I see myself as a gamer and its nice to hear someone acknowledge how much gamers can do. Thanks to that talk I’m now following her on Twitter.