Lecture 7 - Designing an (our) Exam

After the last lecture, I had a number of comments, both on the blog and in email, that suggests that the last lecture was conceptually difficult to comprehend. I thought that instead of focussing on the next topic in this series (special needs education), I'd focus on trying to explain the role of assessment again, and I'd do it by designing the exam with you folks. I thought that this would be a neat way to explain this section because I'm deliberately designing an assessment utilising some of the psychological theories that we discussed in Lecture 6.

What we're not going to do.

Clearly the one thing that we're not going to do, is to use a norm referenced assessment approach. It serves neither you, nor myself, nor FNU nor the Fiji community to use this approach - if it does, I'd love it if someone would explain it to me. We're also not going to do a standard examination (Section A would multiple choice, Section B would be short answer questions and Section C would be a longer essay). Hopefully by the end of this lecture you'll agree this isn't a sensible way to construct an exam. 

Furthermore we're not going to do a memory exercise, nor are we going to penalise people if they do not use perfect English spelling, punctuation and other grammatical constructions in their essay. If the word is obvious in context, it will count as if it were spelt correctly with the all the correct syntax either side of it.

What is the purpose of Assessment?

It sometimes pays to consider what the purpose of assessment is. In the lecture we discovered that assessment is really about feedback, not so much about 'passing'. Feedback tells us whether the student/pupils have actually understood an issue that we were trying to teach. The feedback does NOT tell us whether a student or pupil is either 'dumb' or 'smart', it just tells us whether we were successful in our teaching. If the feedback tells us that a student/pupil has not understood the issue, then we need to ask the next set of questions, principally 'why'?

Further Notes

This is a start of the process of assessment but the full working out can be found in this document here.

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