Friday, January 25, 2013

Cycles in Assessments

In speech we finished up the communication model of a message being sent, received, feedback given, cycle goes on and repeats. Everything is a cycle, right? A day does not go by that we don't communicate or do anything besides a cycle. Life in general is a cycle. Work is a cycle. School is a cycle, even though it shouldn't be. But we can bust out of cycles, right? We can break habits and routines and the society we have to conform into. After talking with Angela Maiers last week I started to question. I don't think on the spot, I need time to ponder most everything. Here's what I came up with:

Is a process and a product different than a cycle?
  • I see a definitive difference between the two. A process and a product is thought of as a static unchanging occurrence  They are extremely similar in the fact that you have to put in work during the process to get a product and outcome you like. A cycle is viewed as taking it a step higher and taking that process and product and doing it again. Tweaking and changing it, but in essence doing the same thing again justifying it as a dynamic occurrence. 
  • Example: A student taking notes, participating in activities, and studying to get the outcome they would like of passing the assessment. If they are satisfied, is it done and over? Move on. If they did not get what they wanted it could be retaken and reassessed making it a cycle.

Was the process different than the product? Which was more important?
  • This is tough. In every instance there is a process and product as a result of it. Quality of the product is dependent on the process. But what if the process is more important? A student can demonstrate their critical thinking skills amazingly but the essay they wrote was not typed or well written. It had grammatical, spelling, and organizational issues. Is it still a good piece? What part matters most: the thought process or the end result? Too often I feel like the end result is being looked at too heavily. As the famous saying goes, it's the thought that counts.

Is there a point where you can stop and call it good enough?
  • Even in a cycle there must be a product generated at some point. It may just be revised numerous times. But now the question comes back to the definition of a cycle? No where is it stated that a cycle can stop. If it is not done regularly it is not a cycle. It could be referring to the overarching idea of reassessing work until an end point is reached where all parties, teacher, student, parent, are satisfied. 
  • Going back to my example of the student being assessed from question number one, how do you know when you reach this magic end point? Is it when they get an A+ on a multiple choice assessment? They most likely did not reach the highest level of understanding and certainly did not demonstrate it in that form. 
Angela stated plain and simple that "It's not about the number [product] that matters but what got you there [process]". Though this was referencing clout scores and online digital footprints it can be applied in every situation. That is where reflection comes in, to think about your thinking and the process behind where you are.

Summing up this debate with myself we can conclude that:
  • cycles have a process and generate a product
  • Often the thinking and skills used in the process can be poorly represented or poorly assessed in the product.
  • Cycles are more of an overarching term of a repeating revision in the process and product.

Instead of leaving questions unanswered at the end of the post I am trying a new format of answering them during the post. Pretty smart, huh? ;) I would love to discuss and hear what parts of your thinking were pushed farther from my intense questioning whether it be in the comments or on Twitter. Game on.