I am trying to find new, innovative, and useful models for assessing higher learning in student work. I also seek formative assessment through self-reflection upon my own performance as a teacher-facilitator.
Five purposes of mathematics assessment have been outlined by Kulm (1994) as the following:
- improving instruction and learning,
- evaluating student progress,
- providing feedback for students to understand their thinking,
- communicating expectations, and
- improving attitudes toward mathematics.
In the USA there is great resistance to change in the classroom and assessment is based upon standardized testing as the measure for learning and performance. Conversely, in Finland, the purpose of assessment is to guide and encourage studying and self-assessment skills. Assessment measures a combination of educational progress, work skills, and behavior (Finnish National Board of Education, 2010). Classroom assessment practices in Finland allow teachers to evaluate and change instruction based on student needs.
I recognize that Finland is culturally more homogenous in comparison with most parts of the USA, so comparisons are difficult. But a teaching and learning environment that facilitates creative expression and deep learning are my priorities as a teacher and learner. That is the way I dream for schools in the USA, where learning is experiential and reflective, but the norm here is so far away from the Finnish model. The odd irony is that Finnish model is partly based on 19th century scholarly and philosophical thought about Education in the USA (Dewey).