There has been a growing dissatisfaction with traditional paper-and-pencil short answer tests which was characterized by a passive accumulation of skills. The argument is that traditional assessment methods measure only how well a student can transfer the knowledge from the teacher to paper. This has led to the current trends of alternative assessments that are increasingly being recognized and that differ from the standardized norm of assessing knowledge and facts. The alternative assessment is more complex and offers a wide range of assessment possibilities which enables teachers to get a more accurate view of a students ability. The complex type of assessment goes beyond the norm of assessing knowledge to developing skills like analyzing, problem-solving, creative thinking and synthesizing which are lifelong skills. It is easier to use this kind of assessment to measure different skills than the traditional approach. The alternative assessment differs with the traditional assessment in terms of structure, cognitive demand, evaluation, time, administration and grading or scoring (Pleiss, 2010).
One of the major characteristics of alternative assessment is that it recognizes the need of each individual student. The assessment gives a holistic picture of a student by taking into account the unique character of a learner like their different learning styles, maturity level, learning disabilities, and language. It allows students to demonstrate their ability in a variety of ways such as writing or performing and not put emphasis on their weakness. By focusing on individual needs, students are then able to reflect on their own progress and this also enables teachers to understand their students better and identify where further improvement is needed (Miller, Linn & Gronlund, 2009).
Alternative assessment does not only focus on the final result but relates to a learning process that is continuous. In this regard, it assesses the degree to which both short term objectives (formative) are met and also how the final objectives (summative) are met. It is flexible and dynamic as students are continuously given feedbacks with regards to their progress. It is easier to alter the assignment depending on progress and interaction with the students. This is important because by engaging students in the assessment process the focus then shifts from competition with others to student improvement. To this end, students can also review their own progress by reflecting on their development and learning process (Lopes, 2015; Miller et al., 2009).
The complex type of assessment is not just quantitative in nature but qualitative because it is based on a variety of information sources. In light of these, it not only measures a students deep understanding and cognitive learning theory but also matches today educational goals where students are expected to develop life-long skills and competencies. This, therefore, makes it a more reliable and valid assessment tool (Lopes, 2015).
There are various forms of alternative assessment strategies including essay questions, portfolios, interpretive exercises and performance based activities. Essays are constructed response written assignments that require a student to think of more complex topic, organize and then integrate the material as opposed to the short-answer questions. They require a higher level of reasoning and understanding from the student. The second form of assessment is interpretive exercises which are more like multi-choice questions but are more complex. The student is given some data and questions on the information but is required to analyze it. It does not require previous revision and failure to get the right answer means she cannot analyze the information (Miller et al., 2009).
The other type is portfolios which show the progress of a students performance over a period of time. It is an extended performance assessment or a collection of students work that reflect his/her personal skills or accomplishments. It can either be a developmental portfolio which shows how the student has evolved over time or a showcase portfolio that shows the best work of a student. Normally it is done with a specific objective in mind.
Finally, performance-based assessment requires a student to perform a specific task in order to assess a different type of knowledge and skill. For example, may be asked to conduct an experiment, design something, prepare a report or give a presentation. The goal is to establish if a student can apply knowledge into everyday activities (Pleiss 2010). The alternative assessments mentioned are very appropriate when it comes to testing high level of thinking like evaluation, analyzing and synthesizing (Miller et al., 2009).
Expected Learning Outcomes
According to Paul and Elder (2007), learning outcomes are those measurable results that are specific and observable and which are expected after a student finishes their course. To them, the foundation of a good education is critical thinking. They go ahead and mention the skills that characterize higher level thinking such as evaluation, analysis and synthesis as proposed by Bloom. Using Blooms taxonomy, learning outcomes include judging outcome (evaluation), creative generation, analysis, application.
Learning Outcome 1: Analysis and Synthesis
Legalization marijuana prevents wasteful usage of resources on police enforcement and the judicial system when arresting people who use or sell marijuana.
Analyze the statement above by providing an informative argument.
Figure 1. represents number of skilled, semi-skilled and non-skilled citizens from
Based on Figure 1. Mark T if the statement is true and F if the statement is false.
TF1. In 1990, there are more unskilled citizens than skilled citizens.
TF2. From 1992 to 1993, the number of semi-skilled citizens decreased.
TF3. Generally, there were more semi-skilled people than skilled citizens
Answer each of the following questions:
In what year the difference between skilled and unskilled citizens was lesser?
A portfolio is intended to demonstrate a students progress in one or all the units. The first part is to plan by reflecting on his goals and objectives. The student must analyze information that is relevant and appropriate.
Use the microscope to observe the slides of microorganism, and then analyze the chain of infection and how to prevent its spread.
Learning Outcome2: Evaluation
Evaluate how the components of the water cycle are affected by climate change i.e. the increase and decrease in global temperatures.
Read the article and use it as a basis for your choices below.
Several famous universities in Europe had already been established by the end of 13th Century. Some of these include the three most widely known universities; the University of Paris where student studied theology and philosophy; the University of Salerno which taught medicine and University of Bologna which is commonly known as Roman Law.
Use the following symbols
T if the statement may be considered TRUE
F if the statement may be considered FALSE
N if no conclusion can be drawn the article
People were not interested in education in the 13th century T F N
The universities had very poor teaching strategies T F N
There were few doctors Europe in those daysT F N
Books were always availableT F N
The student can clearly demonstrate the ability to identify and apply theories and practices in their learning goals and setting goals to enable them evaluate their progress when meeting those goals.
Performance based activity
There is a claim by Ravcon, a paper towel company that their products are 35% more absorbent than other brands in the market. As an advocate for the consumer products, you have been requested to evaluate Ravcons claim. Develop a plan on how you will do an investigation to evaluate their claim
Learning Outcome 3: Critical/Creative Thinking
How has the internet revolutionized the way business is conducted?
Lizzie lost her pen to while going school. It was yellow in colour and a gift from her aunt. She asked the teacher to inquire if anyone in class had found the pen.
Key: Circle Y if the statement may be inferred as True.
Circle N if the statement may be inferred Untrue.
YN1. The pen was new.
Y N2. Lizzie uses the bus.
YN3. The pen is yellow.
YN4. Lizzies aunt gave her the pen.
YN5. The pencil had a new eraser.
A portfolio must promote critical thinking and reflection especially when it comes to self-evaluation. Must clearly link academic content with end results in a clearly organized manner.
Performance based activity
In groups of six, construct a miniature golf course using only a golf ball recyclable materials such as cardboards, boxes, newspapers, and aluminium cans and a pair of scissors.
Lopes, L. S. (2015). Alternative Assessment of Writing in Learning English as a Foreign Language: Analytical Scoring and Self-assessment. In BSU Masters Theses and Projects.
Miller, D., Linn, R. & Gronlund, N. E. (2009). Measurement and Assessment in Teaching (10th. Ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson
Plessis J. (2010). Improving educational quality project. American Institutes for Research, Alendrai, Virginia.
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