Tuesday, 12 May 2015

That student again!

The student asked questions. Lots of questions. Even the simplest topics caused her problems. She was not “getting it”. The questions continued for the entire term. I was quite frustrated. There was a curriculum to be covered, and this was slowing me down. The lectures dragged and lost continuity. Other students began to roll their eyes.

I was relieved when the course ended, and, since she found it difficult, I think she was relieved as well. There was a followup course that I was slated to teach in the second term, but it was not required for her degree. I imagined that she would be happy that she didn’t need to take it.

You know where this is going, don’t you? She took the followup course. 

When I walked in to the classroom on the first day, there she was again. I got through the first lecture, handed out the first assignment, and began to worry about the pending onslaught of questions. 

I arrived early for the next lecture. She was there, discussing something with two other students, apparently seeking help. But as I watched, it became clear that she was not seeking help—she was doing the helping. 

This continued for the rest of the course. She became the go-to person for those who were having difficulty. 

My initial judgment of this student’s abilities was way off the mark. And for me it raised doubts about how I assessed all of my students.  

I don’t like the high stakes nature of final exams and I think they often provide an inaccurate measure of a student’s learning. But, for this particular student, the exams and tests were more reliable than my in-class observations. In this case, classroom activity was not a valid indicator of the student’s progress. 

When there is a discrepancy between how a student performs in class and how a student performs on the tests and exams, what assessment do you trust? Quite a dilemma.

No comments:

Post a Comment