Sunday, December 28, 2008

The 'A' Word ... Assessment

I found this post by Christopher Vilmar - "Exams & Regrets" - via The Long Eighteenth. It does perfectly capture the angst of grading. How sad to see all those weeks of work turned into a series of (often) poorly written rehashings of what we had been discussing, often with much greater sensitivity and sophistication. And thank goodness, as he notes, for the essays that do reflect real, independent thinking. Christopher opposes grading and syllabus writing, but I find it a challenge that they happen at virtually the same time, at least between Fall and Spring Semester. (Starting back up after a long summer break is a different post.)

What I always find myself spiraling back to is assessment (and it's not just because my campus is currently obsessed with it): to test or not to test? Should students just do projects and write papers and essays? Or do they need tests? Do I?

When I am grading, particularly at finals, these are the questions that chase each other around in my head. And they pursue me as I construct the next set of syllabi. Some semesters I include exams; others, just projects and assignments. I have not been happy with either result. What should I do next semester? Still working that one out.

Thanks to Christopher Villmar and Dave Mazella for leading me to my questions.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the kind words. I also face the to-test-or-not-to-test dilemma, so far without having come up with any definitive answers. We're in the middle of major curriculum changes, too, which makes it even more challenging. Perhaps I'll have a better suggestion to make in a couple of terms?