By Claudia Hortencia Aguayo Hernández
As humans, our very nature makes us assess events, situations, objects, facts and, of course, people. We do this so automatically that it is easy to lose sight of the core of what we have observed, subjecting the assessment to a personal point of view, since the person who performs this action does so from a perspective replete with his or her own history, needs, experiences and expectations.
In this sense, we might ask, is the assessment process formative?
Assessment in education, with regard to student learning, is the same human and natural process carried out by individuals in their role as teachers. So, how can we make an objective, fair, reliable and valid assessment, but above all one that serves student development and education?
Learning assessment is a process and an act of accountability on the part of students, but also of each of their teachers and the Institution that has taken on the commitment to deliver to society a professional with a specific profile.
The Real Academia Española defines assessment as: “1. To indicate the value of something. 2. To estimate, appreciate, calculate the value of something”. In education, assessment is associated with the fulfillment of learning objectives and is measured with exams or activities that lead to a grade.
But measuring the fulfillment of a learning objective, which normally involves only cognitive aspects that the student will be capable of using, is no longer sufficient to drive the survival of a professional in the knowledge society defined by Peter Drucker in 1969, or in the liquid modernity of Zygmunt Bauman, the hugely challenging reality to which education must respond. Therefore, some institutions have opted to work with a competency-based approach.
Competency-based assessment needs to be viewed not as a comparison of individuals, but as a process of collecting evidence and formulating judgments on the measurement and nature of progress toward the required outcomes.
Therefore, what does assessing competencies involve for an educational institution and for teachers?
- Be clear about the definition of the competency. A properly established competency is the best start for assessment.
- Determine the level to be achieved, through cognitive, behavioral, attitudinal descriptors.
- Identify the evidence that will demonstrate the competency.
- Define the performance criteria, consistent with all the evidence.
- Guide an ongoing observation and feedback process, with the possibility of learning by making mistakes and by getting things right in order to improve.
All of the above, takes place within the framework of a collegiate, interdisciplinary performance linked to specialists in the specific field of work.
The assessment process is key to student learning, and assessing their competencies involves a high degree of planning and design of evidence and instruments, observation of student performance, and, above all, constant feedback to improve the level of competency attainment. As a teacher, assessing competencies implies a high level of commitment to student development, but also the satisfaction of preparing students with greater possibilities of being successful in the current work and social environment.
Are we prepared as teachers to assess? We need to channel our practice, investigate and document our experiences as educators, trying out new strategies and processes, materials and environments, thus generating knowledge that we can subsequently share. I would like to invite you to use assessment as part of our student learning process, in order to bring to light and consolidate their competencies in everyday life.
About the author:
Claudia Aguayo Hernández holds a Master of Education in Cognitive Development, with studies and experience in the areas of human resources, educational innovation and personal development at Tecnológico de Monterrey, Campus Guadalajara.