Assessment: Too Focused on Individual Work?

I had several interesting meetings today. Perhaps the most interesting theme was that of assessment, and in particular whether or not the most common assessments are overly focused on individual achievement instead of collaborative achievements.

For example, most working world positions now involve working collaboratively in teams, or using shared pools of text and content to construct documents. An employee isn’t evaluated by sending them into a room for an hour with a bluebook. In fact, our students will likely move on to work in collective teams that band and disband for projects, and then move on to work collaboratively with an entire new set of colleagues on a new project.

Coursework and assessment may or may not take this type of future into account. Obviously, the students are actively collaborating outside of class on homework and other projects using technology, whether it is assigned or not. (When this “help” or “sharing” crosses over into “cheating” is another discussion.) As for “working in groups” in the classroom or on projects, it is occasionally done but not typically for a final or dominant assessment.

In fact, some kids may argue that “I should get a higher grade than the rest of my group” if they feel they did better than the others. Again, it’s the idea that all assessment should be individually granted.

I wonder what a school would look like if the idea of active, ongoing collaboration was the norm, and rapidly assembled and disassembled teams were commonplace. Assessment would be on collaborative skills and support of each other, in addition to the products or processes achieved.

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