Collection 4 on Pathways Awarua covers a couple of key things before we dive into the teaching and assessing components and related project work over Collections 5, 6, and 7.
Here’s what’s inside… What you need to know about:
- Developing and focusing on some broad strategies for embedding literacy and numeracy at the “big picture” programme level.
- Structuring and writing specific learning outcomes for embedding literacy and numeracy into your teaching sessions.
There’s a pattern going on here that some of you will have noticed…
- GENERAL ==> Specific
This is intentional. It’s less obvious with the first few Collections but it should be obvious when you get to the assessment task for Collection 4. This pattern is woven through all of Collections 1 to 4. And continues through 5 as well. The pa
This pattern is woven through all of Collections 1 to 5 as well. But the pattern changes in Collection 6 which is all specific application. This practical application of knowledge and skills is what the course is building towards.
Finally, the pattern reverses in Collection 7 as we want to zoom out from the specifics to the general again.
If you’re curious:
|From the general||To the specific|
|1. Understanding definitions, Frameworks, Factors||Describing how these to your own teaching context, content, and learners|
|2. Understanding approaches and concepts from ALNE, Te Ao Māori, and adult teaching||Describing how these to your own teaching context, content, and learners|
|3. Using the Learning Progressions to analyse “big picture” literacy and numeracy programme demands in terms of broad strands and progressions||Using the Learning Progressions to analyse specific literacy and numeracy demands from samples of teaching resources in terms of specific steps from key progressions.|
|4. Building on 1 to 3 to develop “big picture” strategies for embedding literacy and numeracy at programme level.||Building on 1 to 3 to develop specific learning outcomes for embedding literacy and numeracy into teaching sessions.|
|5. Using the Assessment Tool to get “broad brush strokes” diagnostic information about learners||Developing and using contextualised literacy and numeracy assessments to get specific diagnostic information about learners; developing individual learning plans|
|6. Planning and facilitating teaching sessions designed to embed specific aspects of literacy and numeracy; Applying key aspects of relevant frameworks, approaches, and concepts to specific teaching sessions|
|To the general||From the specific|
|7. Assessing specific literacy and numeracy progress.||Reviewing the whole project with a view to changes, improvements, implications, future goals.|
What is contextualised assessment?
A contextualised assessment is a type of assessment where the literacy or numeracy content is relevant to your learners because it relates to the context that you teach.
For example, the context might be:
- A trade such as painting, horticulture or hairdressing.
- Another vocational area such as employment skills like CV writing or interviewing.
- A workplace context such as communicating with a supervisor
- An ESOL context like going to the doctor.
This kind of assessment is usually relevant and appropriate for your learners because you’re assessing the key aspects of literacy and numeracy that are already right there in your programme or work.
The opposite of a contextualised assessment is a generic or non-contextualised assessment.
How could you create a contextualised assessment if you were a painting tutor?
Here’s an example of how you might go about developing a contextualised literacy assessment for a painting context. But when you’re thinking about it, see if you can put it into your own teaching context.
- Narrow the focus: As a painting tutor you have to teach people painting and decorating, but you need to start with what the parts of a paintbrush are. To manage this you want to narrow your focus to talking about paintbrushes and industry jargon. So you have an idea that some of your learners know some of the terms but not all of them. You also know that some terminology is technical and the words could be new to these learners. But you need to confirm your suspicions.
- Decide on a small set of things that your learners should know or do: Once you’ve narrowed your focus down to the parts of a paintbrush you list key vocabulary. This might include words like these: tip, belly, heel, crimp, bristles, ferrule, handle, size, synthetic.
- Design a short test that you can use as a pre-assessment and post-assessment. There are lots of ways to do this. And we’ll show you some examples in the next module. But for now, let’s say that your assessment requires learners match the paint brush terminology with the corresponding part on a picture of a paintbrush.
- Try it out with a colleague. If you can, it’s always a good idea to put any new test through its paces with a co-worker or someone who can give you some feedback. It’s an easy way of finding the bugs before you give it to your learners.
- Test-Teach-Test: Now you can use your new mini-assessment as a pre-assessment to get some diagnostic information about who actually knows which words. You can adjust your teaching plan to only focus on learning new and unfamiliar words that the group needs. Then when you’re ready to wrap things up you can readminister your test. This time it’s summative to the short unit of learning on paintbrushes, but it’s also formative to the larger programme that you’re teaching.
Contextualised assessments for literacy and numeracy are what we’re most interested in for this qualification and training.
The reason we like them is that in most cases contextualised assessments lend themselves to our embedded approach. They’re also easy to manage for smaller chunks of learning like in the scenario above.
We’ve got some examples coming up in the next module that you can adapt, modify or just use for inspiration when it comes to designing your own contextualised literacy and numeracy assessments.
What is summative assessment and what’s it for?
Summative assessment is a type of assessment that happens at the end of a programme or unit of study. Often the focus is on achieving an outcome or determining the level of understanding. This might include a mark or grade against an expected standard.
Sometimes, you might hear tutors talk about doing a post-assessment. In the same way that a pre-assessment is another way of talking about a diagnostic test, this is another way of talking about a summative assessment.
Now’s a good time to compare summative and formative:
|Summative Assessment||Formative Assessment|
|When does it happen?||At the end of a learning activity, unit of study or programme.||During a learning activity, unit of study or programme.|
|What’s the goal?||To make a decision||To improve learning and teaching|
|What kind of feedback?||A final judgement, e.g. a mark, grade or credit||A return to the teaching and learning material|
The TEC Assessment tool is sometimes used as a summative assessment
If you teach a longer programme, you might be required to use the TEC assessment tool two or three times across the length of the course.
The first time you use it, you’re gaining diagnostic information. The second time, you’re measuring progress – so it’s formative assessment. Or if the second time is the last time, it’s summative.
Some longer programmes might use the Assessment Tool three times. The third and final assessment is summative.
Summative assessments can be spread through your programme as well. In this way, a pre-assessment and matching post-assessment can act like bookends around smaller chunks of learning.
This is often more appropriate for shorter courses where you don’t have time to use the TEC Assessment tool again (or even at all).
Here’s how this approach would work:
- TEST: Create a contextualised assessment for your trade, vocational teaching or ESOL context. Base it on the actual needs of your learners and the demands of what you have to teach. Use it as a pre-assessment and gather some diagnostic information.
- TEACH: Based on what you learn about your learners’ knowledge and skills, do some teaching with your learners over a period of time making sure you target the gaps you’ve identified and prioritised.
- TEST: Use the same test again as a post-assessment. This test-teach-test approach means that the assessment process wraps itself around the teaching. It doesn’t have to be at the end of the programme.
A short post-assessment as part of this test-teach-test approach counts as summative to that short unit of learning.
But it’s also formative to the programme or some bigger course of study. So you’re ticking both boxes.
Why are formative assessment and good feedback so important
Formative assessment is super important. Here are at least three reasons why:
- It increases learner motivation.
- It helps people learn how to learn.
- It helps you to fine tune your learners’ progress.
Let’s look at these… Do you remember our discussion about motivation in the first collection? The best motivation is the kind that comes from inside – when you really want to do something because you set it as a goal for yourself. That’s what we called internal or intrinsic.
The worst kind of motivation is often what we call extrinsic. That means it comes from outside of ourselves.
When someone makes you do something, that’s extrinsic. When you choose to do it yourself it’s intrinsic.
In order for you or one of your learners to really want to do something themselves, they need to believe that they can do it. In other words, they need to feel confident that they can succeed in a specific situation or complete whatever the task is.
This belief is called “self-efficacy”. You don’t need to remember the term, but you would have seen this with your own learners. Some believe that they can succeed at a task and some don’t. Often this becomes self-fulfilling.
To get to the point, good formative assessment and feedback help people increase this self-belief that they can do a task or succeed at something. And this belief permeates every aspect of our teaching and learning.
So if you shift your focus away from summative assessments (like getting credits, marks or grades for example, towards formative assessment and feedback you’re more likely to increase learner motivation. The good kind.
Other things that happen is that you also start focusing on improving your students’ awareness of how they learn.
And you start to really fine tune your teaching. All of these things make you a better teacher and your learners better learners.
Here are some other things to think about. Formative assessment and good feedback:
- Provide positive motivation and reinforce positive self-belief.
- Promote learning and are part of better teaching.
- Take into account individual learner progress including things that might not be included in your official programme.
- Are learner-centered because they require that your learners are involved
- Focus on what’s useful to your learners right at that point in time.
- Make it clear what good literacy and numeracy skills and behaviours are for your context.
- Help your learners understand their own strengths and weaknesses.
- Encourage conversations around how we learn things.
- Allow you to explore ways to bridge the gap between where they are at now versus where they need or want to be.