Damian Cooper’s opening chapters offer a very insightful and mind stimulating introduction on the topic of assessment. He was able to map out the ‘bigger picture of assessment’ and introduce the eight ‘Big Ideas’ that form the foundation for building a coherent assessment system in secondary school settings. Cooper also addresses the fundamental shift taking place in Secondary Education to better meet the needs of students living in this new digital age. To encompass this change, he brought forward the idea that teachers should no longer be viewed as transmitters of knowledge, but facilitators of learning. This point really stood out for me although I felt that the democracy example he used to demonstrate this approach through inquiry-based learning was missing in some detail. In my opinion, the primary focus should be on choosing intellectually stimulating topics that students can relate to or are passionate about and hence expose them to the art of knowledge-discovery first. Irrelevant or uninteresting topics may lead young students who are digital-natives yet novice-researchers to a limited Google/Wikipedia-based type of inquiry learning.
Cooper also highlights the idea that the standard for student achievements should be constant and time variable, thereby allowing students extra opportunities to demonstrate their learning. I strongly support this idea and find that it may also be of greater benefit to inform students of the assessment design to be used in evaluating their understanding (a case study question, for example). Going forward, I would like to further explore this idea in my studies.
With reference to the case studies, I found that Rebecca’s Art Class case was a clear example of a failed assessment evaluation. I think the teacher failed to provide proper communication in warning the student of the resulting consequences from her continued absence. To quote Damian Cooper: “The power of teachers to influence the self-image of their students cannot be over-emphasized. Students tend to live up to or down to the expectations that we have for them.” Rebecca did indeed live ‘down’ to her teacher’s expectations when she decided to drop out of school.