Academic journal article Peer Review

Love of Learning-And Assessment

Academic journal article Peer Review

Love of Learning-And Assessment

Article excerpt

I am a musician and a music educator, and that fact drives how I think and feel about education. Practice, self-assessment, public performance, and passion shaped my teaching and my students' learning during my K-12 and college teaching careers.

I mention passion because I believe that inattention to affect underlies many of the teaching and learning challenges higher education faces. It is obvious that students must devote concentrated time and effort to their studies to have a reasonable expectation of success. What is less obvious is the level of responsibility teachers should assume in creating conditions ripe for learning. When students are motivated, when expectations and affect are positive, better learning results. Consistent regard for affect prior to, during, and after teaching should be part of our planning. It is telling that one of the widely used assessments now helping to improve higher education-the National Survey of Student Engagement-is a measure of student engagement, not cognition.

Of all the aspirations we can hold for students, perhaps the highest is "love of learning." This dynamic integration of passion and cognition is, often, what leads faculty and administrators to their careers. Eliminate either passion or cognition from the classroom, and you compromise learning. Faculty may know all six levels of Bloom s taxonomy of the cognitive domain. Few, however, plan their teaching considering the affective domain (receiving, responding, valuing, organization, and characterization by a value). Just as we are often encouraged to plan for higher levels of cognition (i.e., synthesis, evaluation), we should strive for higher affect-at least up to valuing.

Assessment holds special promise to influence how students learn and feel about learning. Far too often, students don't know what they are doing-they cannot judge the quality of their own work because they have not been taught how to judge success. Musicians say "practice makes perfect," but if you practice badly, you only get really good at making mistakes. We must be taught how to practice or we become discouraged and stop trying.

Assessments can provide the guidance that students need to improve the quality of their work and how they feel about learning. Teaching students to self-assess, using the same criteria an expert uses, engages students at the evaluation level of cognition. …

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