A Real Eye-Opener

Eds 113 – Final Note

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Testing and Assessment – little did I know that these two words are not synonymous to each other.  Testing is what is given to students to be able to arrive at a grade to be written in the report card which then determines if they advance to the next grade or not.  The student is always the recipient of knowledge and should be able to demonstrate the knowledge learned by doing good on tests.

Now, it is clear to me that assessment entails a lot more than tests and grades.  It involves a systematic way of gathering evidences to see if the intended learning outcomes have been achieved.  It also serves as a feedback both for students to see how they have mastered the course and as a feedback for teachers as it will provide them with data to see if their teaching methods are effective to optimize student learning.



With these realizations, it is now very important that assessments should be planned and created with the sole purpose of optimizing student learning.  This means that assessment should not just be to ensure accountability as it happens in Assessment Of Learning but rather making sure that the purpose is to improve the learning and that this is ongoing, collaborative and fluid.


“If we always do what we’ve always done, we will get what we’ve always got.” – Adam Urbanski

Now, fortunately, different studies have been made and are still undergoing, all geared towards having a holistic type of assessment where there is an emphasis on the formative purpose of assessment and at the same time making sure that students are able to attain the goals of learning both in content and in performance.  For this to happen, educators should maintain an open mind.  There should be the ability to adapt and to let go of some traditional assessments as necessary and adapt non-traditional or performance or authentic assessments.  If the students produced from traditional assessments are not faring well, then the possibility of change should be embraced.



Another focus that is also worth looking into as an educator is the disposition of the students.  Remember that a part of a good assessment is having learning objectives that target different aspects of students learning namely cognitive, affective and behavioral objectives.  With this, sometimes it cannot be avoided that the students will fail during the education years.  As educators then, we also have a responsibility to prepare them and help them deal with failures and mistakes.  Traditionally, with the kinds of assessment before, how students deal with failure is very negative.  So, as educators, aside from trying to change very summative assessments which can contribute negatively on how failures are dealt with, educators should prepare students and make them realize that failure is in a fact a part of life.  It should be emphasized to them that experiencing failure is but normal and that these then should be used as motivation to do better.



As a final thought, remember that changing what was initially accepted as methods of assessment is not that easy.  There will be challenges in terms of which methods are more effective or the rubrics or methods of assessing the tasks given will present a challenge in its validity and reliability.  Somewhere along the way, we may fail but what is important is we are willing to try newer methods of assessment, all for the benefit of student learning.  After all, the root word of assessment is taken from the Latin word assidere which means “to sit beside.”  This means we as educators have the responsibility to sit beside the learner and make sure that he learns so that he will be ready to tackle independently anything in the real world.  After all, assessment is not something that educators should do to students but rather what educators can do for and with students.








The Pressing Issues in Education Nowadays


“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” Confucius

Everyone has their own experience in school.  Not all, of course, are good but I think we learn most in experiences that are not to our liking.  I remember experiences like panicking because the test questions in my exam were not tackled in class so I don’t have any idea on what to answer or being so mad at my teacher because other students have a grade equal or higher than mine even if they don’t deserve it.  Then, just when you think you survived school, right after you graduate, you can’t find a job or you are being discriminated while you are applying for a job.  The question now is after all the studying for how many years, why is this happening?  Will you blame the student, the teacher, the school or the curriculum?


“Children must be taught How to Think, not What to think.” – Margaret Mead

One of the things I noticed after I graduated is the real world is very different from school.  Most of what was taught to me was basically not applicable in my work.  I had to undergo training before I can be part of the main team.  I think here lies one problem in education.  There is a mismatch in what is being learned and what is needed in school.  This may also be the reason why there is a large number of employment especially here in the Philippines.

Because of this, this is an area that we need to put focus on.  Looking at the nature of the issue, I think we should go back to what I think is the root of the problem and this is back in school.  While in school, I believe students should be more exposed to the actual needs of the industry where they are planning to work after graduation.  As a future teacher or as an advice to present educators, I think it would be best to do this by coordinating with groups within the particular industry or there are also groups that will help in offering more apprenticeship programs.  In this way, not only are students being taught about the theory but also able to practice the skills needed in the job and as early as possible being able to let them simulate actual working conditions so they can develop problem solving skills.  This is what they call “socializing knowledge”, i.e., bridging the gap between knowledge taken from educational institutions and everyday life.

Connected to this is another issue in education today which is the quality of education being taught in school.  This is both on the part of the educators and the curriculum.  To specify, there is a question of how equipped are educators in terms of knowledge and teaching skills.  Of course, one has to take into consideration factors affecting this like working condition of the teachers, availability of resources to be used by teachers, compensation of teachers that allow them to fulfill their job, etc.  The other part is on the curriculum, that is, is it done in such a way as to emphasize student learning or is it just to “teach the test”?

Fortunately, nowadays, this issue is being given attention albeit slowly.   I think there is a big connection with the budget allocated by the government to education.  As educators, resources for teaching should be looked into.  There is the issue of sub-standard textbooks being used or the unavailability of resources like technology.  It would be good if schools would go into partnership with companies or groups that would like to sponsor such resources.  Training and seminars for teachers should also be available, better if these are sponsored or free.  The quality of the educators is very important because this can ensure that they are up to date with useful techniques or strategies that can improve student learning.  Targeting the scope of competencies that the students are supposed to achieve should be taken into consideration when doing the curriculum and the assessment accompanying it.  This can help students excel practically and cognitively in terms of the standards of education.

These issues are present all around the world and thankfully there is awareness of these issues.  Research and study are being done and the results are shared.  We in the Philippines are doing our share to make education better.  As future educators, we can and we should help in making education better.



http://etale.org/main/2015/09/17/what-are-the-10-most– critical-issues-in-education-today/


Is One Better than the Other?


“Are we permanently changing behavior or are students simply responding to punishments and rewards?” – Mark Barnes

Honor roll, final exam exemptions, classmates looking up to me…these were my motivations to studying way back when I was in school.  It was not hard to let people listen to me and for me, it was equivalent to respect.  This is why I studied hard…to get high grades.  I devised techniques to improve my memorization skills, studied my subjects in a way that I know my teachers will create multiple type questions . I do good in written exams.  However, when the exam is an oral type or a discussion type, I fringe and I am at a loss for words.  Now, can I call myself an intelligent, learned person?  Unfortunately, not that much as others see me.  I studied because I want to be known as intelligent and I feared being humiliated in class if I have low grades.  Why is this so?


“Grades distract students from exploring what is valuable.” – Mark Barnes

For me, education then was like that and unfortunately until this time.  Most teachers tend to favor students who say or agree with what they know.  Students who question teachers are said to be insubordinate or in Filipino, “pilosopo”.  This is why it was hard for me to speak up my mind.  This is the reason why I always admired students who are verbally articulate.  Thinking back, should I blame my teacher for how I perceived learning?  I say now that both parties are to blame.  I believe that teachers too have their hands tied a certain degree.  They are also evaluated in their ability to produce students that pass the national standards and that if majority of their students don’t, then that is reflective of their way of teaching.  That is why they teach students so that they will pass the standardized tests.  I do commend though the efforts of some teachers who are beginning to incorporate authentic assessments slowly.  It may be hard as it may be time consuming and the issue on validity and reliability is there but it is uplifting to know that it is possible.  Authentic tasks may be described as unconventional but as its aim is to prepare students for their journey to the real world, then this I believe will be worth it.


“As students cross the threshold from outside to insider, they also cross the threshold from superficial learning motivated by grades to learning motivated by engagement with questions.” – John C. Bean

This module is an eye opener and a challenge.  As a future educator, there are things that I would like to change.  For one, it should be inculcated in students that assessments need not be feared.  A grade does not define who the student is and what he will become.  Traditional assessments I believe should still not be eradicated completely but rather a collaboration with non-traditional ones.  I think these types of assessment can be carefully planned with the sole purpose of making sure that students learn how to learn.  Assessment should stop being teacher centered but rather be student centered as education is for students.  As the saying goes, “Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn.”

Reflecting on the Importance of Reflective Teaching


“Everybody is a genius but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

As a student, did you at one time compared yourself with your classmates?  Did you study because you want to learn or because you want to be the highest in the classroom?  Some people say that competition is healthy because one will strive harder to be better than the rest.  The question now is when will educators realize that the use of formal and standardized assessments for students is not enough a basis to say that a student is a good learner or not?  If the realization is there, how willing are they to change their own ways and try to adapt a whole new one that promises to result to better learning outcomes?

Having learned the different types of assessments namely formal, informal, summative and formative, how can I make use of this insight to be a good educator someday?  This is when I encountered the terms Reflective Teaching.  It entails the teacher looking at his own ways of teaching, scrutinizing and analyzing which ones work and which ones don’t, and then coming up with ways to improve it to provide better outcomes in learning.


“The goal is concrete, the intention has been set but if I don’t stop and reflect, there’s no point to it all.  Teaching is reflective practice.”

Provided with a good curriculum is not enough to become a good teacher.  Diversity in students coupled with the changing events of the modern world make the development of a suitable education difficult.  This is why it is important to constantly reflect on their way of teaching.  Teachers should aim to continuously use a “constructivist approach” wherein the emphasis is on the concepts, the questions of the students, actively and cooperatively learning, and making sure to always incorporate assessment with teaching.


“Teaching is a complex and highly skilled activity.”

Being a good teacher takes time and practice.  This is why having an open mind is essential because one has to be receptive of new techniques or insights on how to be better at the profession.  Being able to reflect on one’s practice can lead to self-fulfillment of the teachers because it helps them realize what they need to do to provide students with quality education.  Teaching is an expertise that is developed over time and so it should always be kept in mind that development in this profession is an ongoing process and should always try to aim to develop the quality of education.







For the Sake of Good Learning


One or two decades ago when I was attending school, I must admit that I cannot remember ever been given a very detailed learning objective at the beginning of the class.  Either I did not pay attention or it was not emphasized as the more important issue was sticking to the syllabus, topic per topic, and make sure it is all covered by the end of the year or semester.  As always, we are expected to have quizzes, exams, graded recitation, among others.  At the end, we were given a grade to determine if we move up or be retained at that grade level.

The question is, did we learn?  Well, we passed.  So, does it mean that we learned? My answer to that is not necessarily.  I would like to still believe in my own definition of learning which is it is an insight newly gained or corrected misconceptions which can be used to help deal with life.  During my time in school though, I do not think there was a clear relationship among learning objective, assessment and outcomes.  This may be the reason why I cannot recall many of my lessons then even if I had good grades.  Assessments were given for the sake of having a grade.  Many times, teachers stick to what they were used to doing even if they see that a lot are failing.

Fortunately, because of the changes in education and the rising need to have a better education for all, teachers are now aware of this.  The availability of resources for better teaching and assessment is extensive and more accessible by the teachers.  Although it is hard, teachers are slowly aligning assessment and the learning objectives and goals.  This is good because now, students are more vocal and more expressive in their thoughts.  They are able to be active learners and not passive listeners only.  Of course, there will always be some who are against this type of teaching but the measure should always be how the students achieve their goals and the intended outcome.

Because of this, I suggest that teachers or educators be open to changes in education.  People are continually discovering and improving ways to improve education and right now, one of those areas is in assessment alignment.  Educators should realize that although it will be hard, they should be up for the challenge to fulfill alignment because it may produce better learning.  Seminars are given for this and also publications are available over the internet.  Educators should take advantage of these and apply whatever is applicable in their classroom setting.  As per John Briggs, “In constructive alignment, we start with the outcomes we intend students to learn, and align teaching and assessment to those outcomes.   Learning is constructed by what activities the students carry out; learning is about what they do, not about what we teachers do. Likewise, assessment is about how well they achieve the intended outcomes, not about how well they report back to us what we have told them or what they have read. ”



Good Learning not just Good Grades


“When the cook tastes the soup, that’s formative.  When the guests taste the soup, that’s summative” (Robert Stake)

Ever since I can remember, I study hard because I want to be in the honor roll so that my parents can go up the stage to pin my ribbon or because I want to get good grades so that I will be exempted from the final examination.  I am a good example of a good “academic student”.  Along the way, I met students who compete with me in terms of grades which is again another motivation to get good grades.  I got commendations from my teachers because I embody what they call an ideal student, i.e., getting high grades and able to follow their instructions properly.

Now came this module.  Thinking back, I am now contemplating if I really embody a student who has fully learned because I was able to attain high grades.  I embodied the purpose of assessment which is Assessment OF learning.  As defined, “Assessment OF learning occurs when teachers use evidence of student learning to make judgments on student achievement against goals and standards.”  However, now I understand why I I never really saw myself as better than my classmates.  They always feel down when they have low grades and yet I find myself looking up to them because they are good with things that I don’t have any mastery of.  For example, one classmate does not do good in identification exams but is very commendable in making speeches.  Another classmate of mind is barely above the passing mark in an objective exam but can express himself in presentations and reporting.  Now, I can say that our system of assessment then was more of the OF learning type.

For me, when I become a teacher, I will change the way I do my assessments.  There are a lot of students who are not given the chance to show their capabilities because of this traditional way of assessing them.  As a teacher, my goal should be to produce students who are motivated to learn and I can do this by letting them be part of assessment.  My role as a teacher should not just be the one who stands in front of the class and teaches but someone who makes sure that an environment is  created that will enable the students to learn more.  I would like to make use of assessment in such a way that students see it as a means to better themselves, even taking risks as necessary where they think they will get a good grasp of the learning.  This I believe can produce students be independent learners which in turn will be beneficial in the real world.  Just like in the saying above, the cook is the teachers and the students tasting the soup and making it perfect.  They are developing and making learning more feasible by revising and implementing changes where necessary.  This is what makes the soup taste better, in this  case, education better.


Bridging the Gap


“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.” ― Nikos Kazantzakis

We all have met different kinds of teaches in our lives.  Some are very strict or what they call terror teachers, some are too self-engrossed that students are practically invisible, some are too lenient that students are bored to even give any effort and some are in the middle.  How are they labeled as such?  Well, basically it’s in the way they give their assessments.

After reading this module regarding gathering evidences, assessment components and the assessment cycle, it makes me ask which kind of teacher as I mentioned above would be considered as the one who embodies the purpose of assessment?  Terror teachers are labeled as such because they give very hard objective exams wherein they teach, give exams, assign a grade and don’t care if half of the class failed.  There are teachers who are so lenient that they won’t even notice if you are attending the class or not and you pass the course.  I know you can relate to these scenarios.  The description of the teacher sticks to us even after years out of school but we can’t even remember wholeheartedly what he/she taught us.  Now, is this the way we want our students to remember us?  I hope not.

There are several things that struck me while studying the module.  One is teachers can incorporate indirect measures of assessment along with direct measures (exams or quizzes).  Though taking into consideration the non-cognitive areas like values, behaviors, personality, etc., can result to a subjective kind of assessment, I believe combining it with direct measures can give a more accurate assessment of where the student is in the learning curve.  Another thing is it made me realize that being educators doesn’t merely mean teaching, giving exams and giving grades.  Educators need to realize their role in creating the right instructions and the right assessments in order to fill up the gap between where the student is now and where the student should be in terms of learning.  This is an ongoing cycle to continuously find out ways to help the students achieve what they are supposed to learn.  It is not just the students who are continually learning but also the way the educators teach.

These are just some realizations that educators need to imbibe in order to provide a better education.  Enough with labels as being terrors or being too lenient.  As the times are changing, educators should also learn to adapt to see if their teaching style and method are still effective.  Assessment is not just for students but also for educators.  The time of “the teacher teaches and the student listens” has changed in that learning now entails students’ experiences in the achievement of the learning outcomes.  It doesn’t mean that students’ wants are the ones that will be followed but rather allowing them and giving them opportunities to learn in the way where their capabilities will be maximized.

This is why the saying above struck me.  Teachers are there to facilitate, meaning, not entirely dictate how their students learn but make sure that students have a part in this process.  How?  It’s a cycle of planning, discovering, developing, evaluating, reflecting and revising.