Learning Outcome 3 – Understand how to plan assessment
3.2 Evaluate the benefits of using a holistic approach to assessment
A holistic assessment approach to assessment can provide the learner with a multifaceted assessment that is designed to take a more nuanced and textured approach to their progress.
By collecting evidence/ information from the learner via multiple dimensions (coursework, observations, presentations, tests etc.) the assessor can then sum up the learners overall performance holistically with a single number/ grade.
This provides an overview of the learners performance/ data that can then be used to describe the learners body of work is of a specific level (eg David is a B student, Mischa has an Actual Target Grade of DMM), and therefore suggests the learners level, suitability, and potential transference of skills to other courses and/ or work-based opportunities.
The major benefit with holistic assessment I have encountered is the ability to provide a grade that reflects the learners ability fairly by breaking my Unit assessments in to smaller tasks. This way I can gain an overview of the learners performance from different assessment methods in addition to capturing video/ audio and text evidence via naturally occurring evidence I might see in lectures. This way I can gain a mean average, overview, fair, representation that can all be added together, reflected on and assessed holistically to create a final mark for the student.
This manner of assessment helps me embed assessment throughout the project and means that the formative feedback is constant. This actually helps me give lots of feedback via podcasts, vlogs and text posts after each task.
It is also motivational for learners as it promotes after each feedback the learner responsibility and learner involvement in taking ownership of the grade on the tracking grid we have for them at each stage.
By linking different aspects of learning through multifaceted assessment I feel I rationalise the overall holistic grade more than I would if it were based on just one assessment eg test at end of Unit.
By meeting a number of learning outcomes/ assessment criteria via multiple tasks the learner has numerous opportunities to achieve. For example, in my recent Music Video Assignment the learners could achieve the U29/ LO3 criteria via 5 different Learner Activities throughout the Assignment. This led to differentiated ways the learner could enhance their grade for this particular outcome.
By linking knowledge-based and performance based assessment opportunities in this assignment the learners demonstrated theory before applying it to the practical task of creating a music video.
The amount of naturally occurring evidence the students captured themselves during their experiential learning via reflection vlogs, maintenance of a Google+ profile, and 1-1 podcasts with me provided even more evidence from which I could gather criteria.
The drawbacks of this approach could be time effectiveness if the Lecturer was to gather criteria and provide feedback for every stage in a written form. The feedback should be fluid, constant, succinct and formative with clear directions to the learner as to how to improve. I found that by using different media (Video, Audio, and Comments on their Google+ posts) the workload was minimised and natural as I was simply recording the feedback I would normally verbalise anyway. By capturing it in video and audio media the learner could revisit it and I had evidenced by marking of each stage.
Another potential drawback of the holistic approach lies in the fact that two people with the same grade/ score can have very little in common.
For example, one learner may have excellent technical skills while another completely different learner with only adequate technical skills but excellent teamwork and communication skills may have the same grade.
The grade means something quite different for these two people meaning that the ‘holistic’ grade or score does not always provide adequate information for different/ future assessors to develop and improve the student.
One of the central purposes of the holistic assessment score is that provides a mark that suggests the students probability/ potential in future work. It is crucial to be sensitive to differences in the measurement of different assessments so a breakdown of performance in each task is a clearer indication of specific strengths in my experience.
By using more than one measurement device/ metric to determine the level of a performance I feel confident in measuring the learners performance.
The meaning of the given grade at the end of the course is both universal (an order of hierarchical complexity and phase on the skill scale) and contextual (it is provided to a performance in a particular domain in a particular context, and is associated with particular content.)
It is the assessors responsibility to prepare and analyse the content of the learners performance to determine its strengths and weaknesses—relative to the level and the known range of content associated with that level.
Providing feedback about these strengths and weaknesses as well as targeted learning suggestions help me to tell a useful story about a particular performance with as much detailed information as possible.
Relying on only the overall holistic grade can sometimes give an unfair representation of the learners progress.