Aggregation Woes and Systemic Compatibility (A conversation on Knowing the Learner)

A Renewal of Education Forums Active Conversations Aggregation Woes and Systemic Compatibility (A conversation on Knowing the Learner)

This topic contains 7 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Paul Zachos 12 months ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #628

    Paul Zachos
    Moderator

    Question Submitted by MikePhones:

    If aggregation remains the primary problem with assessment using this new method of experimentation, isn’t it fine to simply leave the results divided? Rather than having each learning goal be worth 1 grade, wouldn’t it be better to have each learning goal on an evaluated or pass/fail basis separately, so that the teacher has access to that in the future? If these high stakes learning situations are causing problems, but also remaining in place regardless due to the wishes of the school or government, then there should be some way to work around them as an individual in order to give better overall results within a class.

    Well, Mike, this is a significant concern that incorporates a number of the basic issues addressed in Knowing the Learner. Creating a summary of a learner’s performance by aggregating across discrete learning outcomes (e.g. adding up correct items to receive a total score) results in a value that masks level of attainment on the individual learning goals. That level of attainment on individual learning goals is precisely the information the teacher and student need to decide what needs to be learned and taught next. But the problem is compounded here, as it usually is in practice, because not only has information on the extent to which individual learning goals were attained lost, but the ‘teacher’ has become concerned with assigning a grade which is a non-educational activity that distracts from the actual learning and teaching that needs to take place.

  • #633

    Mike Campito
    Participant

    If the aggregation is an issue, isn’t it simply fine to leave results divided? It is true that grading in general is inherently unhelpful, but it seems the primary problem is with the aggregation of the values. If that is the case, then assuming the individual tracking of learning goals, how can this be implemented to worthwhile educational value in a setting in which grading remains mandatory? Something still has to be graded in the vast majority of schools in America, so in order to implement this, that remains a hard wall that must be crossed. Is there any way that these learning goals can be tracked separately in a graded setting in order to better the student’s education without diverging irreconcilably with the greater educational system as a whole? Or is the KTL system too radical to be taken in half steps as such?

  • #634

    Paul Zachos
    Moderator

    These questions (and there are several) are all good introductions to major themes addressed in Knowing the Learner. I will give some general answers here, but also direct the reader to portions of the book where these issues are addressed more fully.
    The reader begins by referring to the fact that when outcome information concerning distinct learning goals is mixed together, typically by aggregating performance scores to get a total score, that the meaning of the original goals is lost and one cannot use the aggregated score for an educational purpose. While this is a good general rule of thumb, it is necessary to recognize that there are instances where aggregation across discrete learning goals can be helpful. One of these is presented in the section of Knowing the Learner called ‘Is Aggregation Across Diverse Learning Goals Necessarily Inappropriate’ (pp. 45-50)
    Regarding the question of grading, please consider that we have not chosen to oppose the idea of grading in educational programs. Rather we try to make explicit the conditions when grading can be and those were it is not educationally productive. The whole first chapter of Knowing the Learner can be considered a critique of the grading paradigm, and yet we conclude this chapter with a section called ‘The Redemption of Grading — Accomplishment Based Grading’.

  • #635

    Mike Campito
    Participant

    So, in your opinion then, aggregation can be useful in the circumstances where what could be construed as a larger learning goal is broken down into smaller, easier to track ones (or rather, the smaller learning goals that compose the aggregate all share a powerful commonality that is worth tracking in and of itself). Grading is not necessarily a negative force, but rather a tool such as any other, albeit one that is frequently misused. By making grading a more collaborative process, it can to some extent justify its usability in the educational system. Moreover, the distinction between assessment and grading is far more crucial than I initially gave it credit for, demonstrating a lack of appreciation for the individual functionality and practicality of either. Grading’s true value lies as a motivational force rather than as a punitive one, and using it as such will hopefully beget more honest participation from the student body as a whole. Moreover, shifting over to a focus on assessment allows for more personal growth from each individual student as well as a better tracking of a student’s current state, consequence free. Thank you.

  • #768

    Oligonquin
    Moderator

    Testing to see if I am notified of follow-up replies

  • #769

    Paul Zachos
    Moderator

    Let’s see if Notify me of follow-up replies via email is working

  • #770

    Oligonquin
    Moderator

    Waiting for Notifications

  • #771

    Paul Zachos
    Moderator

    Waiting for notifications

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.