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Assessing the Impact of Computing on Teaching and Learning

From work undertaken in the last couple of years in schools, there have been a number of issues that have become clear. The first thing that we learned is not to make assumptions about students. Making assumptions often leads to people reinforcing pre-conceived views and setting arbitrary levels of expectation, which are often too low. Using data enables schools to gain a clear, accurate picture of the actual situation. However, it is essential to determine how, when and what you are going to assess.

In order for assessment to be effective, it has to be employed often enough to identify what progress has been so that relevant action may be taken to maximise future learning opportunities. Obviously, there will be daily informal assessments that will take place in the classroom but data needs to be collected to determine how effectively the curriculum is being delivered by teachers and received by students, as well as identifying school-wide trends.

Using an effective assessment program will enable easy inputting of data and effective interrogation of the trends to provide a clear picture of progress throughout the school, in the classroom and at an individual level. There are numerous assessment tools available in the market place but, from a practical point of view, it is essential to use one that interlinks with the school’s management system. This allows information to be moved and uploaded without extra work. If there is not an assessment package included as part of the management system (which is unlikely) or the tool is not deemed fit for the school’s needs, it is essential to consider all the possible packages available. This is because once you commit to a specific package it will become harder and harder to change to a new system if you have made a mistake. Speak to other schools and draw from their experiences before making a decision.

It is essential to monitor progress easily, regularly and accurately. Obviously, it is important to choose an assessment framework that is fit for purpose, easy to use and available for all staff to access. This will ensure that teachers and support staff can be involved in the collection and inputting of data but, more importantly, use the data to identify trends, target students, provide information on progress and identify what has been achieved. All this helps determine next steps.

Effective data lets teachers target effectively! This enables teachers to target individuals and specific groups and for schools to identify cohorts and trends. Regular assessment ensures that schools can respond quickly to the needs of its learners.

Pupil and parent questionnaires are valuable assessment tools, performing different functions. They target two distinct, if inter-related, audiences and need to be designed specifically for each of these target groups. They provide valuable insights into the practicalities of using technology to provide learning opportunities as well as providing a picture of the views, expectations, fears and challenges that need to be addressed. Students and parents often have completely different views, needs and aspirations.

The value of self and peer-to-peer assessment should never be underestimated. This empowers students to take control of their own learning, recognise their strengths and identify their areas for development. Using these strategies effectively has a positive impact on self-esteem and develops a positive attitude to learning.

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