Methods of evaluating students performance: Exams the right way?
Nowadays, the most common way to evaluate our students is through the dreaded exams. We are talking about tests where students have to answer questions about the subject.
But are those exams the best way to evaluate a student’s knowledge? Are there other options that can be used for student evaluation?
Before we discuss the pros and cons of exams and other options, it is valuable to explain what evaluation is and what it is for.
If you ask someone on the street what an evaluation of students is, they will probably give you an indirect answer.
They can say that it checks whether that student has the knowledge that he is supposed to have.
If they own it, then they will succeed. If they do not have it, they will fail. But the truth is that the pattern we just mentioned is far from what is happening right now.
And that means that the objective of the school systems with exams is also far removed.
With regard to education, a good evaluation focuses on determining the current knowledge and skills that the student has.
Why? To determine which learning phase they are in. It must also give you an insight into the general plan that you use.
You want to know if the plan that you use to help your students keep their knowledge working really works.
An evaluation can, therefore, be a powerful tool in the learning processes of your students. The condition is that you use it correctly.
But considering the evaluation of students only as a way to select students or to classify them is a very sad way of looking. Moreover, it completely ignores its objective.
If you see student evaluation as a tool to guide students and adjust their learning methods, you can see the problems of traditional exams. We give you an overview of their weaknesses here:
They only evaluate the student.
The only person being tested is the student. Exams do not evaluate whether the teacher or the educational environment is working properly. There are even many teachers who use exams to ensure that everyone fails. Some teachers take exams where it is impossible to pass.
Only the teacher performs the evaluation.
The student is at the mercy of the standards of one teacher. There are no other standards except those of the teacher.
The only thing that matters is the results.
Traditional exams can tell you something about the current level of knowledge of a student but not about the process. It makes no difference whether they really have a deep understanding of the concepts or whether they have memorized them only the night before. The results may ultimately be the same.
Traditional exams only evaluate knowledge.
No attention is paid to the situation of the student or to his personal strengths and weaknesses. You cannot steer a student’s learning process if you do not know what options he has.
It is the only quantitative evaluation of students.
Ultimately, traditional exams bring everything together into one score. That score must coincide with the amount of course material or skills that the student could take up.
They stimulate the tendency for competition instead of cooperation.
By selecting the students with the best or the worst scores, they create a competitive environment. It is a competition that the system itself has indirectly created. What usually happens is that the students focus more on obtaining good scores than on learning as much as possible.
Evaluate the competence
The purpose of each topic is that the students learn a certain amount of knowledge. But the objective is also that they learn a certain set of skills.
One objective of mathematics can be, for example, that students become familiar with certain formulas and processes and that they memorize them.
But even more important is that they understand those things and that they learn to use them to solve problems.
The evaluation of students must, therefore, determine which knowledge areas the student has mastered and which not.
Once you have discovered this, you can steer their learning process. That way you sharpen the knowledge that they already have and help them to acquire the knowledge that they don’t have.
The only way to ensure that this work is to work out the course well with a flexible learning style that is as individual as possible.
Evaluations of the competence tell you what to evaluate.
But you still need to know how to do this. Portfolio systems are a way to evaluate students in an individual way and to focus on their development. But what is a portfolio system?
The psychologist Bertie Kingore describes portfolios in the following way. They are “systematic collections of the students’ work.
They have been selected to provide information about the student’s attitudes and motivation, level of development and long-term growth. ”
Traditional forms of performance measurement include:
Many learning objectives are difficult to measure with these forms, so various forms of performance measurement must be used/developed.
The use of multiple forms of work also takes into account the different inclinations and abilities of the students, with each student being given the opportunity to take as many forms as possible.
In computer science lessons, subject-specific performance can be measured by means of documented interim results on the phases of a modified software lifecycle during the execution of projects, so that not only the project result is included in the assessment, but also the course of the project.
The facilitator function that the teacher can and should relinquish in a project allows for an observation of the learning process so that, in particular, achievements towards affective and psychomotor learning goals can be measured.