Assessment in Mathematics

Assessment in Mathematics

I really hate the fact that I didn’t blog earlier this week because now I am struggling to remember what exactly happened in class (whoops!) but thankfully I had written some notes that required some deciphering so let’s hope for the best. During last weeks class we spent most of the time discussing assessment. How do we assess? Can you use more than one assessment for one assignment? Do we assess neatness and legibility? Creativity and imagination? Proper procedure and evidence of work? In a math class these are some of the questions we have to think about before we can assess our students.

Assessment can be put into three categories: assessment for learning, assessment of learning and assessment as learning. Because this semester I am taking an assessment class these terms weren’t new to me, however I still was struggle trying to grasp the concept of assessment as learning. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one who struggled with assessment as learning and we ended up having a good class discussion about it. We came to the conclusion that assessment as learning was students having the opportunity to use assessment to further their own skills. They are able to set goals to better themselves. Obviously the most common assessment as leaning is peer and self assessment, however it is hardly ever used in a mathematics class. When I was in school I hardly remember self assessing myself to see what I could do better and how I was planning on doing it. I think giving the students the chance to assess themselves can be very beneficial in a math classroom. Giving the students the chance to assess their own learning helps them realize what they know and what they don’t. As well with peer and self assessment it helps students learn to give feedback which is also beneficial for themselves. When students can correct the work of their peers they are less likely to do the same mistake themselves. This way allows students to know exactly what the teacher is looking for and help them better their own work.

Assessment for learning is commonly known as diagnostic assessment or formative assessment. Both of these are meant to help the students by showing the teachers what their progress is. They are usually used for feedback to help the students improve their work. However diagnostic assessment is usually used for prior knowledge, to see where the students are before a topic. (i.e. KWL chart, frayed chart, yes/no boards, entrance quizzes etc.) While formative assessment is usually ongoing, students give work to the teacher that needs to be corrected but is not for grades. I think it is like draft work for an essay or writing piece. Most students have peers, teachers or other people in their life look over their writing for mistakes or corrections. Which is like formative assessment none of the work is for grades but to help improve the students learning. (i.e. journals, draft work, exit slips, etc.) In math it can be hard to have this kind of assessment because math when I was school used to be “you’re either right or you’re wrong, there was no in between or explaining you’re answer”, but I think allowing students to reflective and explain their work betters their understanding and the teachers understanding.

Lastly, assessment of learning which is more commonly known as summative assessment. This kind of assessment is to figure out what the students know and do not know while putting a grade on it. Both assessment of learning and assessment for learning are important for students understanding however, I believe that helping students improve on their work is more important than just giving a grade. Unfortunately, society doesn’t want that. We live in a world that is grades driven, but what happens to the student when they are given the grade? They look at the mark and put it away even if there is feedback on the work it’s hardly ever read. I would love to just work with students on improving themselves and not worry about grades but unfortunately that is something that I can not do. Mathematics usually has a lot of summative assessment there is usually very little feedback, I think that this is something that needs to be changed. We need to get away from just giving marks and help students focus on actually understanding math, which is the most important thing.

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