Blogging about Blog Topics: Emphasizing Learning over Assessment in the Classroom

All week, I’ve gone back and forth about possible topics, trying not to have too specific or too general a focus or end up reiterating what’s already been said in every class I’ve had thus far. I’m interested in a world of issues, such as student motivation, metacognition, teaching critical literacy, and using technology in the classroom. Ultimately, I want to involve all these as subtopics in my blog…

What I’m mainly interested in, which incorporates theory as well as teaching strategies, is how to get students to recognize that they are responsible for their own learning, and that learning is NOT about rote memorization or cramming for tests (although, unfortunately, performance of these skills is still a primary consideration for grading in many departments). Rather, learning is about developing new ways of seeing, acting, and interacting within the academic–and various other–discourse communities. I want to find ways to separate the ideas of learning (as a holistic concept) and performance (of discrete skills), and I think that in a reading class, in which assessment is, by its precise, statistical nature, difficult to implement, it can be done.

Students at the college level have consciously chosen an academic path… but how many of them have really, deeply gone into the reasons why? Perhaps it’s only for the chance of securing a decent career– a very good reason, for sure. But students going so far as to get into college must realize they have some level of agency, which opens the door for further investigation of that agency…

Ultimately, by creating a classroom community and applying strategies to help students stop mining for the main idea or trying to tease some “hidden meaning” out of the text (but rather, of course, making meaning for themselves through reader-text transaction) I want students to see reading in ways they didn’t before. I want them to find ways to enjoy reading. I know that’s a lofty goal for a blog. But I think that placing “assessment” in a certain context in which it is not synonymous with “learning,” but rather perceived as an institutional requirement (and I’m still learning how to go about doing that while still fulfilling those requirements) I can help students to see that learning is not the same as getting an A or doing “what the teacher wants” or “playing the game.” I’d like to try to debunk those high-school notions and help students to understand that reading, writing, and thinking are interrelated and important to all aspects of learning, and can be fulfilling in and of themselves.

Of course, one of the primary challenges of such a blog topic would be figuring out how best to grade…

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2 responses to “Blogging about Blog Topics: Emphasizing Learning over Assessment in the Classroom

  1. I forgot to include some resources I’ve been examining:

    An interesting NYTimes article on the widening income gap of the families of college students–includes insightful criticisms of tracking and testing: (http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/12/the-reproduction-of-privilege/?src=recg

    Alfie Kohn’s “The Case Against Grades” (Educational Leadership, November 2011)

  2. Good — I’m sure there’s a world of stuff on assessment of reading — start with the chapters in the Handbook on Program Evaluation and Reading Tests. There is no way at this point that you can evade the assessment juggernaut, but maybe you can figure out new outcomes that will reflect your different teaching approach. Nice topic.

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