Appropriate Assessment For The Acquisition Of The 21st Century Skills

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The educational system just like any other enterprise, is constantly undergoing transformation to reframe what is taught, how it is learned, and how it is being evaluated in innovative ways that help improve learning. To attain the 21st century skills, both the approach to education and the way teachers and learners view their roles in the learning process should change. First, curriculum development should be designed to be flexible from the early years of learning, to allow learners to do subjects aligned to their talents, interests and career aspirations.

Curriculum should not group compulsory subjects for learners to do. All learners are talented but in different ways and that their rate of development differs. Learners should be treated as active agents who come to the class with some prior knowledge and continually engage in learning experiences to synthesize new experiences by integrating new information with what was previously learnt. 

Teachers should assume the role of the facilitators as such their arsenal of instructional and assessment strategies need to be upgraded. Thus the use of more learner-centred pedagogical, assessment, and grading strategies should be adopted. And learners should be provided with varied learning activities which require them to be creative, apply logical reasoning and critical thinking, as well as collaborate with their peers yet working at their own paces.

Assessment strategies in the 21st century have thus moved from scheduled summative paper-and-pencil tests (multiple-choice, fill in the blank, true/false, structured items) which require learners to work individually or respond to pre-formulated problems which privilege memorization and recall skills that demand only a low level of cognitive effort.

Rather, assessment strategies that assess a broader range of skills and abilities as well as higher order thinking skills and rely on multiple sources of evidence, such as performances, portfolios, projects and practical activities have been adopted.

Such assessment strategies offer learners the opportunity to be involved in self-and peer-assessment which assess life skills such as self-reflection, collaboration, communication, particularly if the assessment strategy was developed in partnership with leaners. Involving learners in the creation of assessment criteria to diagnose their strengths and weaknesses transfers the locus of instruction from the teacher to learners.

One cannot talk of 21st century skills without talking about technology that has transformed our lives in many different ways including the classroom ecology. As the world is becoming increasingly borderless with the demanding usage of internet, the academic spaces are also increasingly becoming less confined to the four walls of a classroom. Educators always emphasize on learning outside the classroom through the usage of internet and ICT where learners can easily collaborate and have fun, thus making learning more meaningful and relevant.

Nowadays the uses of internet-based or online-based tests are a common feature in the education system. Some of the famous assessment tools using technology are the computer based assessment, game based assessment, e-portfolios and the online assessment. What’s more appealing is that of the many sorts of assessment software available, the assessments appear in game form so that learners do not even realize they are actually encountering an assessment.

Online assessment has the potential to measure complex learning skills, providing immediate feedback, decrease the time and cost making the attainment of the 21st century skills more effortless.

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