You have been studying and taking formal assessment at school, but at times you feel unsure.
Have I really understood concepts?
Well, it happens. A conscientious student who likes to be sure of all that is done, finds feeling unsure difficult to bear. Sometimes concepts get confusing. For instance, when learning about gravity, we get the idea about why things fall. We understand why a feather floats before reaching the ground. Then the class joker asks, why doesn’t the sky come to the ground? Why is the moon still up in the sky?
And you start to think. And it appears that the class joker was on to something. Something that you didn’t know about. Suddenly you aren’t so sure about your understanding.
Different students need different types of assessments
Well, all of us have pondered about many wonders around us but missed out many others.
That is just the way some of us are.
But when the class joker asked a question that has probably played in their mind for a while, we find that despite having understood all there was to, the moment a different question arose, we were confounded. How much do I know? Is the joker wasting time by asking irrelevant questions?
The class joker on their part hasn’t quite understood the concept of gravity. In fact, they probably have not focused much on the subject as much as on all that they can see. They have listened to the teacher, they have heard the discussions but now that questions have arisen, they are lost.
Formal education and formal assessments
We enter formal education so that our minds can be directed along a path and we are better able to understand events as they unfold. There are different types of learners. There is one who focuses on the subject and tries to apply their learning to different situations. There is the other who takes in a little information and looks around, trying to connect a variety of dots, with some hits and some misses.
The first is what formal education tries to do. It presents centuries of learning and observation, explains work that has already been done. Many concepts have been either successfully applied in everyday things or have formed the basis for much new thought that is arising in the world. Each successive generation has a lot of catching up to do, some students focus on doing only that.
The second approach involves educating ourselves, drawing our conclusions and checking back. This is certainly an effective means when paired with the first. Paired with the systematic approach of the first, it possesses the potential of understanding more than what the subject matter presents. In the absence of a careful approach, it risks falling to a side.
Usually, a student will pick up a mix of both with varying degrees of success.
How does self assessment help?
This is where self-assessment comes in. It isn’t important what style of learning you have. It is just a preferred method of doing something. What matters is knowing where you stand. If you are expected to have achieved a certain level of understanding at your level, are you there?
Practise papers help you to answer and check back what all you have learned, understood and retained in memory. But there is more.
Practise papers also give you scope to check whether you have learned the application of a concept. Often, an event is explained by a variety of concepts together.
In the above example, hot air rising is in direct contrast to the force of gravity. It brings out the presence of different factors that get together to form a single event and allows a student to widen perspective. So, the class joker raised a pertinent question.
If you were able to work out the answer, well and good.
Knowledge of an answer to a tangential question is not a measure of how much or how little one knows. If you were not, it merely means you need to widen your scope of reading and practise.
Different methods of self assessment
- Revision, this may be verbal or writing practise sessions
- Spend time on the internet to scan through mock papers to attempt
- Allot a few hours, actively write a paper and check the answers against the solutions provided
Do you find yourself able to answer? Were all the points covered? Did you have to check back or return to your text book in the course of the paper?
What is the score you received?
Self assessment allows you to independently gauge your understanding and seek out solutions for yourself. For one student, the solution may lie in another round of studying. Other valid ways are speaking with your peer group and taking guidance from a trusted teacher. If this leads you to widen your reading or viewing online resources for better grasp of the subject, be willing to check them.
The exercise of assessment aims only to guide you towards getting a better score. If you find yourself worrying and getting anxious that your understanding is not up to the mark, it defeats the purpose of the exercise. If you want to take charge and direct your attention to better performance, self-assessment is the right way for you.
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- Contributed by Shobna Iyer