Assessment of educational ability And Challenges

Assessment of educational ability to me should be a way to see if students are leaning. If that is the case, you move forward; if not you assist them by providing helps. This is to my view the best way to assess learning; it should not be a way of selecting best students, qualifying or disqualifying students to move at a higher level or a way of punishing them. Unfortunately, this is the most spread way assessment is done across the globe and it is more problematic in underdeveloped countries. I am even wondering if the way of assessing learning is not among the main factors that are holding some countries in Africa behind.

Is it possible to address this learning assessment approach and make it better for a better learning outcome?

To me it will be difficult because even in developed countries attribution of rewards based on good performance (weather it is about good grades or participation in class) is so rooted in education and all actors (educators, parents, students, leaders) even think that it is indispensable.

I think at younger age, when students just start school they barely know what they are there for.  But kids appreciate when they are praised. At school when we give a good answer for a question and teachers say “excellent” or “Good job”, etc we feel some joy, some pride. And the same reaction or feeling is noticed with good grade. At home parents are proud and some even show much more love and provide us with more presents than our siblings if we do well at school. These behaviors of teachers and parents motivate us as kids to work hard but which effect are those behaviors having on the students who did not do well. Never fully understood.

Growing up and being more mature our perception of grades or what motivate us to work for good grades can shift but still grades occupies a good place. For some being among the best is always a challenge while other just care about finishing their studies.

I have mentioned that assessing knowledge in the best way is more challenging for underdeveloped countries. The following are elements that one can face while willing to provide students with assistance after unsatisfactory results:

  1. Large number of students in the public schools in some places.
  2. Lack of material and human resources to provide assistance and support to the student in need.
  3. The fact of studying not because this is the field of study you want to focus on for what you want to do or become in the future but because of what can help you get a job and make money. It is not rare to hear mentor telling their mentee if you are choosing a field of study weather local studies or abroad choose a field that will allow you to get a job once back home. They do not hesitate to tell students “choose what can help you make money not what you want”. Even though this does not apply to everybody, it is a fact.

12 thoughts on “Assessment of educational ability And Challenges”

  1. As I read your blog post, I couldn’t help but think about my own personal education experiences through my formative years in Cameroon – Africa. I find your post a true and accurate depiction of the situation in many parts of the world, not only in Africa, but also in the U.S. I sometime feel like education has drifted from its social and cultural goals, to focus mostly on economic outcomes. Leading to a system that is wholly focused on standardize testing as a means of measuring outcomes. National policy and market orientation always seems to favor the segmentation of outcomes, to best identify the most cherished and optimal performers. Back to your question! I believe the answer is yes, that it is possible to improve assessment approaches and learning outcomes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Omoule,
      Your blog post caused me to think about assessment and evaluation in ways that were new to me. For instance, I never considered that an obstacle to higher education and access in African countries might be this “traditional” assessment method we have been so indoctrinated to use. As you shared your thoughts on what motivates students, I found myself nodding YES as you talked about how younger students are often motivated by a little bit of praise and encouragement. It isn’t about grades, it’s about learning and feeling good about learning. Thank you for sharing this perspective and for including a list of obstacles to education. These are points I think we should all think about as we move forward as educators.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Harrell
        Yeah unfortunately, this traditional way of doing things is still in place in many places there and worse in the public schools where the number of student does not facilitate the assistance that some educators would like to provide students with.
        I see that you get it right. what we experience at younger age is just “about learning and feeling good about learning” as during that time some of us do not exactly know or care about grade but just to feel harpy and some cases avoid punishment.

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    2. Thank you for your contribution. That is right, people care the economic outcomes is what people care about not how to help the future generation to have the knowledge the countries need to move forward. For example many countries need to have their agriculture developed but they train their student in some field of studies that will open them door to emigrate and this comprise advancement.

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  2. Omoule,
    Every one of your posts brings up angles on our weekly topics that are completely new to me. In my blog post I was so focused on the difficulties of challenging the grading system set in place here in the US that I did not even consider how incredibly difficult it would be to change things for developing countries. The US may be set in its ways, but it definitely has the “luxury” of being able to take risks and try things out, while developing countries may feel more reluctant to change foundational systems when they are still trying to get their populace educated for highly skilled technical jobs at home and abroad. Thank you for always expanding my world view!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jackson. Thank you so much. I appreciate your contribution. Yeah it is sad but that is the way to say it “developing countries may feel more reluctant to change foundational systems” and this is unfortunate as they really need changes to improve their people life .

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  3. Hi Oumoule,
    This is a very interesting post and relatable at many levels. Like you said, it all starts from the childhood with the instant gratification thing. People support that with positive reinforcement argument. But we need to understand where that positive reinforcement is taking us. Our society is framed in a way that supports ideologies that a better grade translates to a better person. While it may be true in some cases, but not necessarily in every one. With respect to your statement, “choose what can help you make money not what you want”, which is very relevant in many developing countries, it is because people are trying to achieve a comfortable life style. Many families have seen a very hard time and they expect that their children can change the way they live and hence influence them to go for something that is known to earn more money.

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  4. Hi Omoule,

    I really enjoyed your post! I think you bring up a great point about the interconnectedness of assessment that is ingrained in education. I too, even as a PhD student, often find myself obsessively checking course websites once I turn in work, hoping to see what grade I received. There almost seems to be a strange connection between instant gratification and education, through the distribution of grades.

    I also think that you made a fabulous point about how many students may not even know what grades are for when they are younger. This is fascinating — I agree and had never thought about it before. It makes me wonder how early education teachers explain / condition students to think about grades and how that translates to higher education and how students come to understand grades into adulthood.

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  5. Oumoule, thank you for your wonderful post! I think it is so important to hear your prospective on the matter of international education and grades. I do agree that they are necessary in order to compare one student to another and to help incentivize children to work harder. However, point #3 was hard to hear. I feel on our campus the idea of having the freedom to explore passions and the creation of jobs to suit your interest versus money is taken for granted by the majority of our student population. I am sure most teachers can tell the difference between a student who has a genuine interest in a subject versus one who just wants to get through the class, even if they do have the same grade in the end.

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  6. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. With the background I come from, I remember there were many parents in school who put pressure on their children to get good grades in school, which I believe had negative impacts on them and made them stressed. Several years ago, the education system decided to change the grading system for elementary schools. It was initially on a 1-20 scale and then changed to a descriptive grading system (like excellent, good, needs more effort, etc).

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  7. I like your take an agree that assessment should be to identify that the students learned, and if they didn’t offer assistance. I think one aspect that we can work on as future professors and ensuring that if additional help is needed it’s not a bad thing. Personally, I have a times felt embarrassed or ashamed that after so many class hours I still don’t understand something and would prefer to move on and hopefully return to the material at a later date to learn in at my own pace. I think this is a challenge, but we should do better at providing the message that if something is not clear the first time, there are resources that to help students get there and we as professors are one of them.

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