One of the activities that is a part of my workshop on designing authentic assessment tools involves quickly creating a rubric to assess the quality of a conference breakout session. Since all participants have experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of attending this kind of "performance," such a tool is fairly fast and easy to build - and fun to discuss. Most efforts turn out looking something like this:
- Useful, applicable information
- Content matches program description
- Presenter organized and informed
- Begins and ends on time
- Engaging activities
- Two-way interaction
- Practical support materials/handouts
- Emotional engagement (humor, etc.)
- Mindset changing ideas
- Cookies, doughnuts, candy, etc.
OK, maybe not the best tool with the most comprehensive set of performance standards, but for 10 minutes work in a room full of strangers, a list like this is usually not too bad. And it provides a nice springboard to talk about the characteristics of a good assessment tool.
What struck me last week when doing this activity was a question asked by one of the participants: "Do conference planners ever give a rubric like this to presenters to use when preparing to give a session?" While ISTE conference planners ask for a pretty sizeable amount of information about a proposed workshop or session to help evaluators in their selection efforts (including objectives and an outline), I don't know if I've ever seen the actual tool that attendees use to evaluate the session to use while planning. What a helpful thing that might be.
Many moons ago when I ran summer boot camp technology classes, instructors received this tool to let them know ahead of time how the class was going to be rated by participants. I believe it improved the quality of the classes.
Authentic assessment seems to have fallen by the wayside in recent years as test mania has spread and good test taking skills have trumped good self-evaluation skills. Yet, with an increasing number of people who are contractors and self-employed, the ability to critically evaluate one's own work rather than leaving to a supervisor is more critical than ever.
I always add to my college course syllabi:
My job as teacher is not to assess your work, but to teach YOU to assess your own work. I will only help you evaluate the quality of the tools you use to improve your own efforts. That way you will continue to grow long after the class is over.