Assessments occupy a central place in the school process, having multiple roles and generating multiple byproducts. Starting with the papers, what’s the use of an evaluation? An assessment reports results and is used to classify students; inform the teacher of the result of their work and the institution of the result of the work of teacher and student.
Due to an evaluation, and its importance, several by-products arise, among which we can highlight: emotional tension, changes in student behavior, stimulation of competition and alteration of judgment.
EVALUATION AS A VOLTAGE SOURCE
Emotional tension is generated by the importance attached to evaluation, which can become a traumatic process. In this case, the note may cease to mean learning and assume a distorted sense in which not passing the exam or taking low grades refers to failure, to an ‘inferiority’ opposed to high-grade students, exalted as examples.
Faced with this tension, students’ behavior changes, resulting in the search for approval of the teacher or in the display of disinterest as a form of repudiation of the process. As a consequence of the classification role, a competitive and individualistic attitude emerges in the school, where there should be cooperation and collective work.
And finally, the teacher runs the risk of stereotyped analysis and of imposing on students the “halo effect,” in which judgment influenced by previous assessments or by pupils’ characteristics and abilities results in greater benevolence with student considered “good”, and greater rigidity with “bad” students.
To avoid such an effect, it is important to exercise caution and consistency in formulating and analyzing results. The preparation of the evaluation instrument must be consistent with the objectives proposed by the teacher in his / her curricular planning. In general, the evaluations assume a classification character – for quantification and classification / selection of students.
Is it wrong to use qualifying tests? Not! But ideally, do not limit yourself to just this option. At various times, whether by the institution, the time available, or the “certainty” that we carry with us of our training based exclusively on qualifying evaluations, this will probably be the most frequently used tool. Thus, the ideal is to plan so that this evaluation is not limited to concepts. There is no “efficient evaluation” recipe, but there are some issues to be considered in developing an evaluation that is directly related to whether or not it is successful.
Qualitative assessments, for example, take into account the mastery of concepts by students, and often require them to construct an explanation of a phenomenon based on data and information. In this type of evaluation, instead of requesting the reproduction or definition of concepts, the teacher needs to elaborate situations where the concepts can be applied. If the student grasped the concepts, he can analyze the problems and relate the concepts to the data, generating an explanation.
The first step in developing an assessment is the creation of a table of specifications, with the list of elements and competencies that should be evaluated. The next step is the choice of the type of question that will make up the assessment: structured or objective response questions? Associative issues? Dissertation questions? Two of these options? The combination of the three types?
Structured or objective questions of answer are those answered with few words or even by indication of letters or numbers. They are questions or multiple choice items, composed of a question or an incomplete phrase, called a root, followed by a number of answers, the alternatives. In this type of question, the correction is easier and more objective, it allows to include several subjects in a single test and the students take less time to answer it.
Associative issues are those in which students associate two terms within a criterion, for example: structures to their functions, discoveries to their dates, and so on. To construct the association items it is interesting to take some precautions, such as: put in the two columns homogeneous or similar terms; organize the columns into a logical order, the association criterion must be presented clearly; columns with different number of items so that the question is not answered by deletion and establish a minimum and maximum number in the sets. In this type of question it is possible to verify if the students absorbed great amount of information, but serves basically to measure the memorization of this information.
The answers to the questions or to the answers to the questions require students to provide structured answers and interpretation, and help evaluate students’ ability to analyze problems, synthesize ideas and knowledge, understand concepts, and others. In general this type of question is very badly employed and there is great difficulty in constructing a valid evaluation, that duly covers all the content. The best way to use this type of question is to propose an authentic problem, with data and information, for the student to construct an explanation. This care enables students to seek to use expected concepts and knowledge, thereby limiting the comprehensiveness of the response.
Run away from issues like “what do you think”, “in your opinion” and other issues too broad as “discourse on such subject.” The student needs to articulate what he knows, but he must also understand what you want from him. Guidance on this type of question is fundamental.
DO NOT FORGET THE FEEDBACK
Another point about evaluation is feedback, which rarely happens. Students need to get a return from where they were not clear, or where they are wrong. And it is not enough just to pass the “correct answers”, it is necessary to discuss with the students those answers. Understanding how the student was thinking also helps assess whether he or she has not expressed well, does not understand, or does it really need to return that subject using another approach. The discussion of the results of the evaluations contributes to the knowledge being debated and rethought, in addition to enabling the teacher to see if some adjustments are needed in his teaching strategies.
Evaluation can not be seen as a final product, but rather as part of the learning process and, where possible, allow students to give their opinion about this process. Student participation reduces the grading role of assessment and allows the student to discover another perspective on being assessed.