The nature of authority and collaboration are changing and assessment needs to consider these new developments:
• There is now more information and less reliability. Wikipedia, Google, WolframAlpha, Yelp and Siri, have changed the nature of knowledge and how we interact with it. Have you really never used Google to settle an argument?
• Work places are becoming increasingly more collaborative. Cross-functional teams and collaboration are now the norm. The workplace is all about finding the right answer (probably using the internet) and then sharing it with your team. Students arrive from a collaborative online world that largely continues for them. What college demands seems increasingly more removed and less useful for students.
• The internet has redefined cheating. All of us routinely use the internet to find information. Is it vitally important to know the difference between reliable information and poor data, but mostly we just need to know the answer. Do you want a Dr who can do long division (to figure dosage) or ask the right questions ad use the PDR app?
Do you want students who can memorize right answers or analyze input quickly and determine which answer is correct? So what is the point of your exam? Can we test the thinking skills instead of the recall
Open Book Assessment
Exams are rare in the workplace, but assessment is commonplace. If you must have exams:
• Design open book exams for writing and analysis–then don’t turn off the internet.
• Build the use of the internet into exams. Ask questions that require students quickly to find and analyze information.
• Test your questions against Google or Siri. You should know what happens if the exam is open book, even if you want closed book.
• Use timed tests for information that is indeed time dependent.
lower the stress and duplicate work place conditions. If urgency is a part of the stress (because you are teaching crisis management) you still need to consider that exams are a different and additional source of stress. A three-hour test is still timed and adds stress. Match the amount of time to the task.
Evaluate learning without exams:
• Use peer review of writing. Students work harder for each other.
• Increase the number of assessment events. More and shorter low stakes routine assessment gives students control and reduce cheating.
• Use games. An ongoing “fantasy” version of your crisis management scenarios may be more realistic and better training.
• Use projects. Final papers have a long tradition in college, but try giving students case studies and creative, relevant topics.
allow students to create a website or make a movie.
• Grade process. Instead of just grading the final result, create steps along the way so you can assess progress and how students are thinking.
• Make collaboration more like the work place.
Students dislike group projects, but then they graduate and few work alone. Create projects that have assigned roles and grade the process as well as the final result.
• Think like a teacher in an art or design school. What could you have students do to demonstrate mastery?
The point is not that facts no longer matter, but that the relationship between what we need at hand and what we can find online has changed forever. We need to change our focus from content to analysis and integration.
Angelo and Cross Fifty Great Classroom Assessment Techniques
Classroom Assessment Techniques by Angelo and Cross (1993) contains fifty excellent Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) that will broaden your view of assessment. Try the “Minute Paper” (p. 148), done at the end of class on an index card. (You can also give students five minutes and a larger piece of paper.) Many faculty use this as a diagnostic tool by asking “What is still unclear after today’s class?” or “What is the most important thing you learned today?” But it can also be used as a tool for low stakes practice in critical thinking. Instead of asking students just to summarize, ask them to go beyond the class content and “evaluate the arguments used today” or “describe how the last two topics are connected.” I often tell students that at the end of class, they will be required to posit a new question on their index card, for example to define a new research project or a new question that scholars have neglected to investigate. Such low stakes assessment motivates students to think and interact with the material in a particular way.