I’ve had a note on my to-do list for months now to write for myself a credo about assessment (for myself mainly, because I doubt that many other people would want to read it). I’ve wanted to write down all that I think is important about it – and why I care about it. In fact, I wanted to write a “This I Believe” version of my professional agenda (except that I doubt NPR would want to put it on air), and when I started to do so, I actually began with, “This I believe about assessment …”
In any case, recently I penned the first column of the Assessment Annex for Marylhurst’s Adult Learning Newsletter (which is jointly published by our Dean of Faculty and Center for Learning & Technology), after which I realized that what I had written (most of it anyway) was in fact my credo.
At first I was thinking that we didn’t want to use the word “assessment” in the column name because the word can have such a negative reputation and association. And then I changed my mind – I decided that we should embrace the word, use it boldly, with the intent of changing perceptions about it. No longer do I want the word “assessment” to bring forth tears and agony for my teaching colleagues; I want the word to inspire birds to sing and flowers to bloom, fish to frolic, and adorable little bunnies to hop all around our classrooms. (Ok, maybe that’s too ambitious.)
So here’s how it all goes:
THE ASSESSMENT ANNEX
Annex (noun): an area that is incorporated into a domain, such as a city or country.
We hereby invite you to incorporate assessment into your teaching and learning practices.
Right!? Nice, huh?
Now wait for it…
Here comes the credo:
Assessment Is …
By Melanie Booth, Dean of Learning & Assessment
When you hear the word “assessment” do you cringe or get all shaky? Do you automatically think about the piles of papers you need to deal with, the tests you need to create, the rubrics you’re trying to use?
What if you thought about assessment as teaching? What if assessment was simply the other side of the teaching coin, the yin that goes with the yang, the icing that goes on the cake? What if, in fact, assessment was for you as Amy Driscoll and Swarup Wood from CSU Monterey Bay described it being for them: “a dynamic pedagogy that enhances, extends, supports, and expands student learning?”
We in the Assessment Program at Marylhurst believe that assessment is just this: Assessment is pedagogy because it can enhance and expand our students’ learning. Assessment is pedagogy because it can support and extend what students experience in our courses. Furthermore, assessment can help us teach.
This month we launch our inaugural column in this newsletter that will focus on assessment as pedagogy – as part of teaching and learning in these very ways. As faculty, we all engage in a variety of types of scholarship in our work, and we all practice myriad forms of inquiry about our practice: from questioning the effectiveness of our assignments, to considering the books we use, to reflecting on the discussion questions we post and the dialogue we get back from students, we all practice a variety of types of assessment.
We challenge you to think of assessment in these ways:
- Assessment is pedagogy.
- Assessment is inquiry.
- Assessment is scholarship of our students’ learning and our teaching.
- Assessment is learning.
[Note: I did not write in the credo about how assessment can make learning visible or can make programs better, which is all also very true and important as well. I might amend this credo later, when I decide how I want to incorporate these aspects.]
And then I wrote a bunch of other stuff, like our contact information and services. But really, these four points? They truly represent my credo, inspired by and flavored with great ideas from others who’ve thought deeply about it as well . . .
This I believe.