Why is the consideration of feedback as a component of assessment important for 21st century learners and educators?

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Feedback is the most critical part of assessment. As a continuous learner myself, when completing assignments, tasks, and assessments I want to know that I am not only on the right track, but that the work is helping me grow. teachers need to be critical and thought provoking when providing students with feedback. If assessments are only multiple choice, is it possible to truly understand what our learners know? Are we, as educators, able to give meaningful feedback to drive students thinking and desire to learn if our assessments only allow for one right answer? No! We cannot push our students to be critical thinkers if we, ourselves, do not open up the door for providing assessments that drive genuine understanding and connection.

Most “traditional” classrooms offered assessments that could be graded by anyone. What I mean by that is, most traditional assessments were True/False, multiple choice, short answer, or essay style. The answer key or rubric could be used by anyone (teacher, student, aide, admin) to grade an entire classes assessments. Once graded, the students would receive their scores and maybe see a few areas circled/underlined to indicate what was wrong or missing. Positive feedback typically looked like this: A+ Good Job. While struggling students usually saw something more like this: D- Please see me at recess. Who was this motivating and helping to grow?

As we are serving 21st-century learners, our assessments have drastically changed (or should have). Our assessments should be happening in a variety of ways and formative assessments should be happening almost daily. Assessments drive instruction and can come from a simple exit ticket or student response. When it comes to summative assessments, students should be given a platform to share their knowledge. Summative assessments may not look the same for every student, yet teachers are still able to use the assessment to provide feedback to help the learner grow. Some of the biggest differences between traditional and 21st-century assessments is feedback and student voice.

When we, as educators, offer assessments that allow students to do something to share their knowledge, we are giving them voice. These are assessments that can only be graded by the teacher because it takes a true understanding of the standards, unit format, and intended purpose to grade this type of assessment. There is also a STRONG (yes intentionally capitalized) need for feedback. Each assessment requires genuine, critical, and forward thinking feedback. Students should await their feedback to see what direction to take their learning next. If feedback is not a part of the assessment process, then what are we hoping students will gain from the assessment itself?

In my EDUU 624 course, we did weekly blog posts (like I am doing now) as a weekly assessment. Each week our professor would give us video feedback where she was genuinely speaking to our work and providing us with stepping stones to grow our thinking. In week four of the course we were asked to provide a peer with feedback on their blog. This had a huge impact and should not be overlooked when addressing types of feedback to give on assessments. Both my peer and I chose to give each other video feedback (mimicking our professor) and it forced us to be critical of our own feedback as well as vulnerable to each other’s ideas/thoughts. Peer feedback is a strategy that can be used with students after they have seen and received ample amounts of feedback from their teacher. The experience will allow students to take their understanding of the content to the next level and students will be supporting each other’s growth.

Feedback is the heart of all assessments and should seen as that by all educators!

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