Buster – Reflection on Learner-centered Assessment

2. Learning-Centered Assessment: After reading the provided resources on self-evaluated and self-directed heutagogical learning, describe your initial thoughts about designing an entire online/blended course or even just an assignment around these ideas/methods. Will you (or have you) consider these approaches? Why or why not? If so, briefly outline your idea(s). The resources that were provided to you were just a start. Feel free to research more to gain additional traction on these types of assessment.

I remember a great English teacher of mine who in the course of our English class gave one great editing tip: go through your paper and change all of the passive constructions to active constructions. After struggling to improve my writing in high school, this tip was just the first of many that empowered me to take constructive steps in editing my own work. The self-evaluation strategies remind me of this particular empowering experience as a student. Students often view evaluation in the humanities as “subjective” and creating rubrics in the classroom (teachers grade with rubrics after all!) would seem to both show the student that there are concrete things to evaluate and improve.

I could see myself incorporating this method into particularly teaching research papers, a core assessment in the religious studies classroom. Things that students might be able to evaluate themselves are the presence of unfounded claims. I have given students a variety of “phrases that indicate evidence” (this claim is based on” etc.) before, and students could definitely learn to critique the strength of their own arguments. I could envision an assignment where students mark where particular claims need more evidence in their drafts themselves, and the next assignment is to list where you would go to find evidence to support those particular claims.

Another important aspect of self-assessment is that many of my students are training to become professional clergy. In this setting, there is often very little immediate management of things like sermon quality. The student needs to be able to ask themselves if the claims they are making from the pulpit are supported theologically and exegetically! In this way, learning how to self-assess during seminary would be an invaluable skill.

 

Self-direction heutagogical learning is several steps above and beyond the very instructor-guided process of self-evaluation. I admit it is much more intimidating to think how to conceptualize myself as the instructor of a course that is so drastically student directed. My first caution about this model is the great variation in skill that I am confronted with in the classroom. How do I design a student-directed model when some students are gifted researchers and some don’t know what research is? This is, of course, also a problem in the f2f classroom! But I am much more familiar with the model of lecturing to create a common base of knowledge, than in navigating what it looks like to “set students loose” to be in charge of their own learning.

One way to integrate this into the seminary setting might be to focus on the “Student as Producer” model (http://studentasproducer.lincoln.ac.uk/). The students that are being trained in a seminary will go on to be producers of theological knowledge in their own contexts. Perhaps an assignment where the student must develop a Sunday school curriculum would encourage them to identify gaps in their knowledge and address those gaps themselves. This would also mimic what the students will be required to do in “real life,” and thus also fits the parameters of “authentic assessment” (http://jfmueller.faculty.noctrl.edu/toolbox/whatisit.htm)

13 thoughts on “Buster – Reflection on Learner-centered Assessment

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