Classroom Assessment in Learner Centered Pedagogy
In learner centered pedagogy, teaching approaches have changed. Teachers are facilitators of learning and students are experts who interact extensively with available resources to build on their knowledge, skills, and understanding of the subject matter.
In learner centered pedagogy, classrooms should be viewed as “Workshops” and students as experts who interact with available tools (learning resources) to produce desired products (achieving learning outcomes). One of the potential role of teachers/ facilitators in these workshops is to ensure all the necessary tools (learning resources) are available or arranging effective use of few available resources.
To be clear in the issue of availability of learning resources, I don’t believe in the “lack of sufficient resources” saying. I believe in the idea of using the only few available or a single resource available in a meaningful way. I remember my little thinking;
It is far very helpful for a teacher who think of a way to share the only one book available to his 100 students than a teacher with 10 books lamenting about insufficiency of books because he has same class of 100 students.
The aim of learner centered pedagogy is to promote learner’s creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, and evaluative skills among others through learner’s engagement with themselves, teachers and resources.
From the above perspective, the focus of learner centered assessment should be in emphasizing problem solving, higher order thinking skills, promotion of a sense of ownership in learning, and a dialogic approach to instruction (Rich, Colon, Mines and Jivers, 2014).
We make a huge mistake to view learner centered assessment as a separate and a distinct activity. The belief that assessment is an activity done by adults [Teachers] should be abandoned (Stiggins, 2008).
Learner centered assessment should be part of the learning process by itself. It should be a continuous process rather than emphasizing on sets of tests after some period of time. Rich, Colon, Mines and Jivers (2014) points out clearly that “assessments do not have to merely measure what was learned; rather, they can be methods for getting students to learn while they are completing the task you have given them”.
One of the changes which is clearly observed in Tanzanian curriculums for primary and secondary schools is the format of the lesson plans. There is an addition of a column for assessment. The assessment column truly reflect the role of formative assessment during learning. That is, in each activity of learning, assessment should be done.
What does this column mean in relation to learning and formative assessment?
It implies that, in learner centered pedagogy, classroom assessment is a measure of the degree to which students are able to interact with available resources in the course of generating new knowledge and understanding. This is the reason why it is emphasized that educational institutions should not attempt to commit themselves to competency based curricula unless possessing means to access directly student’s performance (McClarty and Gaertner, 2015). Unfortunately, the assessment column seem to be perceived differently by majority of teachers. During block teaching practices (BTP), this part of the lesson plan normally ends with long discussions and without a consensus.
To understand it clearly, classroom assessment should be viewed as a means of following what students are doing in the class. As students interact with learning resources in their groups or as individuals, teachers should document their learning progress through various ways such as observing, listening, marking, interviewing among others.
If you figure out how you can implement learner centered assessment in your class, Rich, Colon, Mines and Jivers (2014) have suggested here some research based steps to follow which promote greater learner retention and participation. Although these might be the basic things to note especially in making learners active and full engaged in learning, you can still design the best way you can implement classroom assessment with your students.
Rich,J.D., Colon, A.N., Mines, D & Jivers, K.L. (2014). Creating learner-centered assessment strategies for promoting greater student retention and class participation. Frontiers in Psychology, 5 (595), 1-3. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00595
Stiggins, R. (2008). Assessment FOR Learning, the Achievement Gap, and Truly Effective Schools. Available at https://www.ets.org/Media/Conferences_and_Events/pdf/stiggins.pdf
McClarty K.L & Gaertner, M.N. (2015). Measuring Mastery. Best practices for assessment in competency-based education. Available at https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Measuring-Mastery.pdf