Canada Association of Tourism Employees

Enhance Pupil Outcomes By Delivering Evaluation Knowledge

Improve student outcomes by providing data

Too many universities do not equip their students to achieve the specific learning outcomes for which they are responsible. Students receive grades for tests, but no detailed information on areas in which they have had difficulty or succeeded. This makes it much more difficult for them to achieve learning outcomes like critical thinking, quantitative thinking, and writing skills. In turn, when students fail to achieve these results, the administration begins to question teachers, curricula, and the types of students they accept.

The solution can be found through actionable data. School administrators should provide students with an assessment report that will give them more detailed information and better control over their academic performance.

Giving students a voice

Usually the faculty member decides whether a student will receive data on their performance and the type of data available. However, students don’t often see exam dates, only grades, so they are unaware of their specific difficulties. It is vital that students are enabled to participate more in their own academic success and that the relevant data are made available to them. The school’s administrative staff should contact students first for feedback on how their learning experience should be improved. By establishing a partnership between administration, faculty and students, relationships are built that support academic learning and create a space for transparency.

Knowledge vs. need

In higher education, there can be a conflict as to whether we should measure skills or measure the demonstration of knowledge. During the grading process, instructors find it difficult to grade students based on their actual mastery or whether they followed instructions and met requirements. For example, a student does not add APA quotes during a written exam and fails that part of the exam. Does this student make an inadequate writer with no APA citations? Not necessarily. The exam instructions may not have made it clear that APA citations were required. Exams should contain specific and transparent instructions so that students have the best chance of passing the exam. Transparency will further improve student performance on exams and will put student needs at the forefront of exams.

The transparency solution

Some administrations and faculties have shown resistance to transparency because it can be viewed as spoon-feeding. Their argument is that we are essentially giving students the answers by providing too much insight – by letting students know exactly how to take a test and what is required. If all students have the answers, they will learn nothing, and everyone will get an A. But transparency is not about giving information to students, it is about taking things that are often implicit and making them explicit. The implication of exam requirements only hinders academic success, and academic success should be the primary goal of the partnership between administration, faculty, and students. Being explicit about the expected requirements and giving them access to the data they need to see where they are struggling only benefits academic achievement.

Certification transparency

Transparency within education should also take place at the certification level. For example, some graduates take special certification exams to obtain a license and practice in a specific field. After years of basic training and even several years of graduate school, the results of a single cumulative summative exam are sent straight to the student’s facility. All students know whether they passed or failed. Students need item-level points to know where they lost points. If they fail the exam, they can focus on addressing those vulnerabilities. There are solutions that can refine the process: once the student has completed their exam, they will be able to see all of their exam performance, including certain areas that they should focus on.

Future of valuation data

Students shouldn’t be pressured to achieve learning outcomes if we don’t provide them with all of the tools they need to be successful. We should give them the transparency they need to see where they are struggling and give them the opportunity to come up with meaningful remedies so they can excel academically. The future of assessment should also consist of a portfolio of exams, projects, and work that demonstrate cumulative skills, knowledge and mastery rather than relying on a single summative exam. And even if some exam takers disagree, the future may also mean continuous assessment throughout the career to ensure lifelong learning. These are the areas where we can not only improve assessment, but meaningful learning and improved outcomes – both in the classroom and beyond.

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