Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Personalization: Assessment AS Learning


British Columbia created an interactive discussion guide on Personalized Learning. On page 18 of the PDF guide, they state that “student assessment is the process of gathering evidence of what a student knows, understands and is able to do and determines how well they are achieving the learning outcomes.”

I am still learning.”
Michelangelo

The report Rethinking Classroom Assessment with Purpose in Mind shows the focus has been on assessment of learning where teachers measure student learning after the fact. To ensure learners are acquiring essential skills such as self-regulation, a shift towards assessment as learning is required where learners evaluate and adapt their own learning. This report encouraged us to look at assessment and what it means when you personalize learning and detail the differences.

Dave Truss wrote a post: Personalization and Responsibility on his Pair-a-Dimes blog discussing  our Personalization vs Differentiation vs Individualization chart and assessment AS learning. He emphasized that:
"We need to personalize the learning for our educators and our students… seeing both first and foremost as learners. We can’t cookie-cutter our professional development to teachers and expect meaningful results. We can’t evaluate students based on tests with easily Googleable answers. We can develop a sense of learner responsibility by personalizing learning, making it meaningful and making it work that matters."
Back to our chart and the section on Assessment. We decided to refer back to our descriptions of assessment and how it relates to the different teaching and learning strategies.

Assessment FOR learning (Differentiation) occurs throughout the learning process. It is interactive,
with teachers:

  • aligning instruction with the targeted outcomes
  • identifying particular learning needs of learners or groups
  • selecting and adapting materials and resources
  • creating differentiated teaching strategies and learning opportunities for helping individual learners move forward in their learning
  • providing immediate feedback and direction to learners

Assessment for learning provides information about what learners already know and can do, so that teachers can design the most appropriate next steps in instruction.

Assessment OF learning (Individualization) refers to strategies designed to confirm what learners know, demonstrate whether or not they have met curriculum outcomes or the goals of their individualized programs, or to certify proficiency and make decisions about learners’ future programs or placements.

Effective assessment of learning requires that teachers provide:
  • a rationale for undertaking a particular assessment of learning at a particular point in time
  • clear descriptions of the intended learning
  • processes that make it possible for students to demonstrate their competence and skill
  • a range of alternative mechanisms for assessing the same outcomes
  • public and defensible reference points for making judgements
  • transparent approaches to interpretation
  • descriptions of the assessment process
  • strategies for recourse in the event of disagreement about the decisions


Assessment AS learning (Personalization) is based in research about how learning happens, and is characterized by learners reflecting on their own learning and making adjustments so that they achieve deeper understanding. The teacher’s role in promoting the development of independent learners through assessment as learning is to:
  • model and teach the skills of self-assessment
  • guide learners in setting goals, and monitoring their progress toward them
  • provide exemplars and models of good practice and quality work that reflect curriculum outcomes
  • work with learners to develop clear criteria of good practice
  • guide learners in developing internal feedback or self-monitoring mechanisms to validate and question their own thinking, and to become comfortable with the ambiguity and uncertainty that is inevitable in learning anything new
  • provide regular and challenging opportunities to practice, so that learners can become confident, competent self-assessors
  • monitor learners’ metacognitive processes as well as their learning, and provide descriptive feedback
  • create an environment where it is safe for learners to take chances and where support is readily available

Reporting in assessment AS learning is the responsibility of learners, who must learn to articulate and defend the nature and quality of their learning. When learners reflect on their own learning and must communicate it to others, they are intensifying their understanding about a topic, their own learning strengths, and the areas in which they need to develop further.

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read
and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
Alvin Toffler

Reflecting on learning as they learn increases their understanding of what they want to learn. 

Thank you Dave for sharing your perspective and reiterating why reflection and how they communicate what they know helps the learner become a better learner.