Top 3 Takeaways from Prof. Mahnaz Moallem’s “Rethinking Assessment” Presentation

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The theme “Rethinking Assessment” investigates ideas which depart from an authoritative mindset towards measurement and grading, to look at ways of changing our thinking towards a more holistic, student-centered approach of exploring artefacts, portfolios, peer feedback, and community discourse that maximises our learners’ personal learning goals.

We were very excited to have Prof. Dr. Mahnaz Moallem — Professor of Instructional Technology, and Research and Grant Coordinator at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), College of Education where she has been a faculty member since 1993 to share her thoughts about the topic surrounding “Rethinking Assessment”.

Here are the top three takeaways from Prof. Mahnaz’s keynote presentation!

1. 21st Century Learning Skills

Digital technology has changed how society relates to knowledge. According to Prof. Mahnaz, learning is now more active and has a stronger focus on discovery and problem solving. It is not enough for learners to focus only on their core subject areas, they need to focus on what educators call the 4Cs.

  1. Creativity and Innovation Skills: Acting on creative ideas to make a tangible and useful contributions to domain in which the innovation occurs
  2. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills: Framing, analysing and synthesizing information in order to solve problems.
  3. Communication and Collaboration Skills: Articulating thoughts and ideas clearly effectively through speaking and writing. Demonstrating ability to work effectively with diverse teams.
  4. Information Media and Technology Skills: Accessing information efficiently and evaluating information critically and competently using information creatively and accurately.

21st Century Learning and Innovative 4C

2. Measures of Complex Learning Outcomes

Prof. Mahnaz also discussed learning outcomes must be able to collect evidence of students’ ability to:

  1. Think critically, examine problems, gather information, and make informed, reasoned decisions while using technology.
  2. Complete a task that is presented within a relevant and meaningful context.
  3. Complete a task that provides complex, ill-structured challenges and requires judgment and a full array of sub-tasks.
  4. Complete a task that requires significant student time and effort in collaboration with others.

Complex Problem Solving

3. Assessment in Learner-Centered Paradigm (Integrated Assessment, Learning & Technology)

Lastly, Prof. Mahnaz shared that in a learner-centered paradigm, assessment is seamlessly integrated in the task that the learners are learning.

It will also provide multiple indicators of the learner’s understanding. An evidence-based embedded assessment can be applied to construct hard-to-measure and complex learning outcomes by utilising technology.

Here are some examples of assessment in Learner-Centered Paradigm:

  • Students complete assessments designed around real-world problems/tasks.
  • Assessment strategies move from primarily measuring discrete knowledge to measuring students’ ability to think critically, examine problems, gather information, and make informed, reasoned decisions while using technology.
  • Assessment focuses more on a student’s operational skills, such as expertise in using multiple sources appropriately and efficiently, rather than on whether or not a correct response was submitted.
  • Assessment embedded in technologically rich learning environments.
  • Advanced technology tools are used to provide rigorous and ubiquitous measurement of the whole student learning experience.

These examples can be found on assessments that come in a form of E-Portfolios, a computer adaptive test (CAT), simulations, stealth assessments, and many more.


What are your thoughts on the ideas offered by Prof. Mahnaz keynote on “Rethinking Assessment”?

How might you implement at least one of these ideas into your own practice and what do you see as the benefits and challenges of this approach to assessment? Share a few thoughts in the Comments section below!

Missed out on #OLConf2017? Read our recap here, take a look at our key highlights from Prof. Gráinne Conole’s Community, Contribution and Connectedness Keynote, or join the Social Learning Conference Course and have access to all the presentations from the conference.

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