All about Testing: Why can’t you test my child the way I was tested?
More than sixty parents took part in a workshop on cutting edge assessment practices conducted by international educational consultant, Bambi Betts, on the evening of January 26, 2017. The presentation was entitled ”All about ‘Testing’: Why can’t you test my child the way I was tested?”
Bambi Betts (see bio below) shared scientific research on how the brain learns best and in what way assessment and evaluation practices can support or inhibit learning. Tradition has been a powerful factor in influencing what we think constitutes rigorous and quality educational practices. However, traditional evaluation formats such as those based mainly on rote memorization, decontextualized questions, and evaluating what you know only on paper and pencil tests are becoming outdated. One reason is that such tests do not show or predict all the abilities needed for real life, such as the ability to apply knowledge in a context.
Currently, employers are looking for qualities in employees that far exceed the ability to recall information or answer test questions. They need dynamic people capable of collaborating to solve problems, people who have a ‘can do’ and persevering attitude toward work, people who take initiative, etc.
Regarding how students learn best, there is no one formula. Principles to consider in teaching and assessment practices are:
‘Pictures’ are better learning tools than words.
The brain cannot pay attention to more than one thing at a time; therefore, it is impossible to multitask and learn several things at the same time.
The brain cannot hold many discreet pieces of information simultaneously.
The brain involuntarily seeks connection to previous learning.
The more senses involved, the more rapid the learning.
The brain learns best in context.
Learning is acquired in different ways according to whether the goal is to understand or to acquire skills.
The brain learns best deductively (exposure to the big picture first and then the details).
The threat of failure does not increase or improve learning.
Thus, students learn best by engaging in meaningful experiences and connecting with previous learning, and when learning is contextualized. Students learn and retain the least when they must memorize many discreet pieces of information that are not relevant to them. Assessments in schools should simulate authentic problems and situations and require students to use multiple skills to respond to them.
Parents took part actively and enthusiastically in the workshop. We look forward to future encounters that strengthen our partnership in providing our students a well-rounded and strong educational foundation for life.
Bio: Bambi Betts
Bambi Betts is a world-renowned educational expert who specializes in providing professional development and training to educators, educational administrators and School Boards. She is director of the Principals’ Training Center for International School Leadership (PTC) and the Teacher Training Center for International Educators. She is also founder of two other training centers for international educators, including counselors and school business leaders. Bambi has been actively involved with the PTC since its inception as a course developer, trainer, and co-trainer for the Essential Skills courses. She also recently completed ten years as CEO for the Academy for Internatinal School Heads