Assessment That Enhances Meaningful Awards


Despite the dialogue to discourage competition, schools hold prize giving ceremonies at the end of the year to award individual ‘best performers’ for their efforts. But effort have to do with how much work has been put into something. Understood in this way, it is not merely the learner with the highest marks who deserves the prize. One therefore wonders if awards are normally given to the deserving learners.

Although prizes are particularly motivating to learners, they are physical rewards which sometimes create an environment where learners look for a tangible reward constantly, resulting in extinguishing of intrinsic motivation. Learners who have developed affinity for rewards often struggle with intrinsic motivation and often look to external factors to get them going. Extrinsic motivation ultimately fails because the learners are not in control of the rewards. Once entrenched from young age, the love for rewards lead to materialism in later years of life resulting in decay of social values.

Prize giving ceremony should be an event that all learners are looking forward to. However, only a small fraction of learners receives prizes during this occasion, making it attractive to minority of learners. Have we ever paused and wondered what effect prize-giving has on learners who do not receive prizes?  I feel a lot of injustice is being done to non-recipients of the prizes who are often forced to attend the ceremony.

It does not require rocket science to prove that non-recipients of prizes have little interest in the proceedings of the day. To prove this point, just ask learners to write a composition about whether prize giving should be discontinued or not. Majority if not all would argue in favour of its discontinuation.

It is indisputable that every learner deserves a prize given the different intelligences that they have which should naturally be assessed using different instruments. it is a well-known fact that leaners differ in their levels of intelligence. A learner with low a level of intelligence who puts more effort than the one with a high level of intelligence deserves an award the most, irrespective of their overall marks.

Learners express their intelligences through various ways, through writing, performance, or speaking. In recognisance of these differences, learners have to be assessed using different formats and methods. Assessment should not always be of paper-and-pencil, but could be in some other formats. For example, a learner gifted in speaking cannot be assessed in writing because you cannot ‘’see’’ the speaking in writing.

Thus all learners can achieve and be given awards if they are allowed to learn at their own rate and style and assessed appropriately. It matters not who achieved what first and how. But the most important thing is that all learners should succeed. 

The use of inappropriate methods and tools of assessment can lead to mis-quantification of leaners knowledge and skills resulting in incorrect labelling. This can be likened to judging the fish by its ability to climb the tree.

In the 21st century, learning is not only concentrated on technical skills. Soft skills are regarded as equally important. Collaboration in education is one of such soft skills. According to the World Economic Forum report, the future jobs will require more of the application of soft skills, hence the time is now that learning should be geared towards imparting such, and discourage activities that seek to work against this. 

Surely learners cannot be taught and trained to compete and upon completion of their studies, expected to be effective team players in their respective work places.

Yes, it is possible!


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