Webinar 3 - Assessment for Competency-based Education

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Introduction

Competency based assessment is a rigorous, ongoing process, which aims in testing and building the knowledge, skills and abilities of the learner. It is a continuous process, by which student’s knowledge and skills are constantly developed. It progresses an individual from being a novice to an expert, well enough to stay ahead of the curve in a competitive world. In competency based assessment, students get additional support even during the process of building knowledge and skills.

As we are now aware, competency based education holds promise for mixmising high quality teaching and learning for the growth of all students. It provides numerous opportunities to learners for master of the topics at hand and to benefit from the differentiated and remedial teaching during the process of mastery learning.

However, competency based education cannot fulfil its goals unless accompanied by high quality assessments and assessment systems.

Click on the link provided below to access the full webinar 3 resource pack document in the GoogleDoc so that you can contribute to the collective further development of the resource:

Webinar 3 Resource Pack

 

Competency-Based Assessment at the Glance

Competency based assessment is a process where a teacher works with a learner to collect evidence of competence, using the benchmarks provided by the learning outcomes as articulated in the competence statement in the curriculum. At the essence, it is not about passing or failing a candidate since the collected evidence is represents more than just setting a test.  During a school term, a learner may be required to undertake a series of tasks for assessment purposes such as assignments, projects, tests, exams or labs. It is the sum of all these assessments that deems a learner to be competent (or not).

The assessment process should be considered to be part of the learning process identifying gaps as learning opportunities to develop skills, not failures.  It is a collaborative process to be negotiated with the trainee and not a one-off event that is imposed. Therefore, the learner is given many opportunities to demonstrate skill using the mastery learning approach and the assessment process should allow the capturing and recording of these demonstrations.

In the webinar 2 resource park, we spoke about the constructive alignment of all components involved in the implementation of the competency-based learning process. As you are aware, competency-based education starts by identifying the learning outcomes for a given course before commencing the course. The next step is to develop assessment activities for the outcomes (objectives).

Comments

Lola Kaniki
18 July 2021, 6:11 AM

Sometimes teachers rush to use one form of assessment to beat time or may not have the required  skills to embark on assessing learners. The need to incorporate  assessment in the learning process is indeed  the way to go as it will also give learners confidence in  attempting various tasks in the end of term or programme. assessments. This is  aspect of CBE really needs more exploring as teachers think of finishing syllabi and ensuring learners are ready for examinations only.

Ass. Prof Joyce Ayikoru A
18 July 2021, 5:36 PM

I agree with you Lola. Once teachers see assessment as a formality and routine, then we are likely to loose the purpose of assessment. This explains scenarios where the assessment given does not speak to the learning objectives and learning outcomes, which is common in our setting. Given the typically large classes that is characteristic of a number of countries in Africa, and given that acquiring a competence is progressive and requires multiple tasks for assessment purposes (assignments, projects, tests, exams or labs), how can teachers be supported to accomplish this without burn out? 

 

Maurice Momo Nkusi
19 July 2021, 2:36 PM

Dear Joyce, Lola and colleagues. Assessment is a challenge and in some instances, it is considered a routine as Joyce indicated it in her comments. If teachers believe that CBC is just a time-consuming process, it means they do not value the time invested when implemented. As we said earlier, let see how we can implement change management processes in our education systems and ensure teachers are change agents while shifting smoothly to CBC.

The aspect regarding large classes, wherein in some schools one class can get beyond 100 learners, a teacher needs to be very innovative to handle such a number. We train teachers to implement some visible thinking routines where learners can be requested to think about an issue brought forward by the teaching, then pair with the closest classmate and share their thing. This exercise can be done in two minutes and the teacher will design any learner in the large class to report back to the entire class what was the think outcomes of the paired group. The good aspect of this thinking routine is that learners cannot hide behind other students work, any time the teacher will randomly design who should present. Think-Pair-Share is one of the routines of the visible thinking methodology developed by the  Havard School of Education. Other important routines that can be used in large classes during the formative assessments are: (1) See/Think/Wonder, (2) I used to think ..., but now I think ...., (3) Does it fit? (A routine for thinking creatively about options), etc.
It is very important to note that in a large class, it is impossible for every learner to speak to the entire class but they can speak, argue and demonstrate in their small groups and they do not need to move around in class because of class arrangement can take some minutes away. Learners can remain in their seats and interact with those who are closer to them. Obviously, class seating re-arrangement may be useful from time to time but it should not be done all the time you want learners to work in smaller groups.
For schools with access to learning management systems (LMS), like Moodle, teachers can design the exercises using peer review type of assignments and after the learners have finished working on the activity, the system assigns randomly the script of each learner to every learner in class. The system makes sure that no learners will receive their own script. Before the distribution of the scripts, teachers share with the learners the correct answers through the rubric highlighting the criteria (questions) and the level of the answers for every criterion. The module facilitating peer review type of tasks is named "Workshop" in Moodle; with this module, it does not matter the number of learners in your class, you can assess them regularly without wonder about the number of questions in the paper. We will continue discussing the issue of large classes and how technology can drastically support assessment in many ways. In the meantime, I share with you the "Visible Thinking Model" developed by the Havard School of Education. Enjoy the reading.

 

Ass. Prof Joyce Ayikoru A
19 July 2021, 10:35 PM

Thank you very much Maurice for sharing some of the ways in which teachers can implement change management processes in  big classrooms. I agree the power of technology in supporting assessment is immense and this calls for a deliberate investment in technology+infrastructure and training of teachers to confidently use technology to facilitate continuous assessment.    

Nura Ibrahim A
28 July 2021, 3:55 PM

Thanking you, Maurice, for sharing the pdf on Thinking Routines. Very helpful and useful.

Maurice Momo Nkusi
31 July 2021, 8:22 PM

You are welcome Joyce and Nura. As Einstein said, education is about "teaching learners to think" and using the visible thinking methodology when facilitating learning is really very powerful. For example, if you ask a question to your students, it may even be a simple question; surely you will get an answer from one of them. The given answer can be correct or wrong; and if you continue with a follow-up question to the same learner who answered, such as "What makes you say that?", you will see your student a little bit perplexed if he/she is not used to the questions requiring a consistent, supported thought and argumentation skills. Using questions that require thinking will help students not only to remember what they know already but will assist them to put their answers in a well-thought context, taking into account their own perspective. Doing so, we guide and introduce to students the transformative learning paradigm.

Technology has an immense influence and benefits when well executed in education, especially when you use it effectively for formative assessment. At my University, we use ePortfolio module that is integrated into the Learning Management System (LMS) to instil students to develop reflective thinking skills through writing. Reflective thinking is the key to quality learning because the learner expresses what is their mind related to the topic at hand and it is important for them to do it in writing. The good thing with the ePortfolio module is that learners can extract it and keep it as evidence of what they have managed to achieve. When requesting students to reflect, in fact, you are asking them to tell you what is their stand about the topic at hand and it is very important to do it regularly. Therefore, when using the visible thinking methodology in class, also request the students to continue their reflection through the ePortfolio or a system like Kopano or any available to your students. The reflection can even continue through the discussion forum available in all LMS. Let us continue sharing

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