Academic journal article The Technology Teacher

Making Use of the New Student Assessment Standards to Enhance Technological Literacy: The Assessment of Student Learning Is a Pivotal Component of Effective Teaching and Learning

Academic journal article The Technology Teacher

Making Use of the New Student Assessment Standards to Enhance Technological Literacy: The Assessment of Student Learning Is a Pivotal Component of Effective Teaching and Learning

Article excerpt

Introduction

Assessment--it's a word that conjures up an odd mix of emotions for many educators. It often reminds people (of any profession) of their own fear of testing situations (for example, how would you feel about having to take another state's written driving test tomorrow?). Or, assessment can remind teachers of their own lack of enthusiasm about grading papers or calculating statistics. To some educatars it may represent double jeopardy--if their students fail at learning, does it mean they themselves have failed at teaching? And rarely is it fun to share bad news--as represented by a low grade--with a student, whether that bad grade was deserved or not.

Drawbacks not withstanding, assessmerit is a critical sub-component of teaching. It demonstrates learning. It provides reinforcement and feedback. It is essential a student's awareness of where he or she stands in relation to understanding a certain content area or mastering a given skill. To live in a world without assessment would be to live in a world of confusion and misunderstanding. Assessment is vital to moving forward, and, as such. is an absolute necessity.

Ideally, assessment is a quality process providing timely, valid, reliable information. Unfortunately, if carried out poorly, assessment can cause problems, damage egos, and change the direction of lives. Because it is so important to teaching and learning, and so important that it is done well,

ITEA developed Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology (STL) (ITEA, 2000, 2002). More recently, ITEA also developed standards specific to assessment. Advancing Excellence in Technological Literacy. Student Assessment, Professional Development, and Program Standards (AETL) (ITEA, 2003) provides companion standards to accompany the earlier published content standards. The purpose of this article is to acquaint technology educators with the student assessment standards in AETL and further their understanding of how those standards apply to everyday teaching practices. Assumptions about assessment within the context of technology education will be discussed, and each of the five assessment standards will be reviewed, with examples illustrating their potential.

Assumptions

Student assessment, as it has been defined by ITEA in AETL, "refers to the systematic, multi-step process of collecting evidence on student learning, understanding, and abilities and using that information to inform instruction and provide feedback to the learner, thereby enhancing student learning" (p. 18). Therefore, assessment, as it is used herein, addresses the documentation of student learning in particular but does not specifically address broader forms of assessment, such as program evaluation or district-to-district comparisons (readers interested in program evaluation may wish to refer to the program standards within AETL, Standard P-3 in particular).

Another assumption underlying the assessment standards is that assessment is not just a solitary act that follows instruction, but should, in fact, drive instruction. Wiggins and McTighe's "backward design" model (1998), adopted by the developers of the student assessment standards (AETL) described herein, proposes that curriculum development should take place after the desired outcomes are specified. That is, first the teacher identifies broadly what is to be taught--what STL standards are to be addressed. Second, the student learning outcomes--what the student should know and be able to do--are delineated. This step includes deciding what constitutes acceptable evidence as to the student's knowledge and/or skills. Third, the teaching strategies and experiences to achieve those student learning outcomes are planned and subsequently delivered. Fourth, the collection of data to see if the desired student learning outcomes were achieved is carried out. And fifth, the assessment data is analyzed and interpreted and used for re-teaching or helping the student in another way, to achieve the learning outcomes, thus completing the cycle of teaching and assessment. …

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