Time to disrupt the way we assess student learning
Learning is a lifelong process and to make learning fun and interesting children need to be engaged, however, due to the current assessment systems children are learning only for the examination. Over time the teaching methodology has changed however the current standardized assessment system allows for children to be labeled as failures or successes.
The grading system was essentially established to make sure that the student has understood the concept and can use it in practical life. However, this system has backfired for years now, as the fear of failing and not doing well causes stress and anxiety.
Let us look at why humans fear failure and what should our new assessment process allow so that children look forward to learning without the fear of failing.
Why do humans fear failure?
As per neuroscience humans fear failure because the experience is unknown and they do not know how to move ahead after having failed. The fear of the unknown creates anxiety and releases stress hormones in the body. However, if you look at a small child, they have no fear at all. They will keep trying till be succeed in the task at hand. They get tired, they will cry but they do not give up.
I see a lot of parents going the extra mile to make sure children don’t fail, they get everything easily, etc. Taking the experience of failing away for children is unfair to them, as we are taking away a learning opportunity too.
Why should we let children fail?
- Failure makes children explorers: We mostly assume that there is only one way of doing a certain activity till we face a roadblock. We explore other options and look for different ways and thereby encouraging children to explore.
- Failure makes children creative: When a child fails in the first attempt, they look for different ways in which they can do the same activity, thereby helping them use their creative mind to look for solutions.
- Failure makes children persistent: Children never give up; they persist till they have what they want. when we continue to encourage children to keep going even after failing, they pick on a Habit of the Mind which is essential i.e. Resilience.
- Failure makes children Fearless: When children fall and learn to get up again to rebuild what they started. They let go of fear, the fear of not being able to complete the task or the fear of leaving it midway. They move ahead with the belief that they will get to their goal one way or another.
- Failure makes children humble: When a child fails, they develop the trait of humility. They empathize with others that are failing around them and they also encourage them to gather themselves and try again.
To allow children to fail and learn our new assessment process should allow the following:
- Self-assessment: Children should be able to self-assess themselves and realize for themselves is they have understood the concept or not.
- Revisit: Children should be able to revisit the concept to learn it again.
- Retest: Children should be allowed to take a retest and the scores should be counted
- One grade up: In case a child is unhappy with their scores they should be able to take a retest to improve their overall performance.
- Focus on learning outcomes: the tests should be conducted to judge is children have understood the concept and not how much they remember.
- Practical application: More of our tests should involve practical exams that indicate actual learning of the concepts
I look forward to this new way of self-assessment and re-learning to bring back the joy of learning.