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Challenges of the pedagogical evaluation of student knowledge

By Lucie Mottier Lopez, Associate teacher

Photograph: © Institut Florimont

 LN 1407Evaluating knowledge is an integral part of the teaching process. To teach and then not to evaluate the knowledge of students would be to engage in self-deception. To teach and then not to subject oneself to self-evaluation would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. But what kind of evaluation are we talking about? As is well known, evaluation can be used to pressure students, intensify competition among students, and stir feelings of inferiority – evaluations can be exploited as an instrument for the selection and division of students into “winners” and “losers” within the scope of the school and the wider social construct as a whole.

In this section, we will explore the pedagogical evaluation of knowledge, that is – an evaluation of knowledge which, first and foremost, advances the proper organization of the instructional-educational process, and which is designed to support students by discovering their unique talents and skills. Such an evaluation demands tremendous professional experience on the part of teachers. It is also capable of serving as the foundation for an integrated learning process in which children study and evaluate their newfound knowledge independently, choosing self-discipline strategies along the way. This should help them to overcome difficulties and achieve progress.

Evaluations to the rescue of educators: the teacher or a teaching team doing the evaluation...
- prior to instruction, in order to assess the accumulated knowledge of students and their needs;
- in order to plan lessons and determine the assignments that students are to complete so as to develop adaptive study plans;
- during the instructional process, so as intervene in a timely manner in the actions of students, render them assistance, provide additional explanations, make decisions on joint work and engage students in discussion, organize group work, etc.;
- in order to determine the mistakes made by students and identify their underlying causes and motivating strategy, to establish the difficulties encountered by students and help them overcome these obstacles;
- at the end of the lesson, in order to determine how students have absorbed the material, summarize lesson results, and evaluate the knowledge gained by students;
-to plan subsequent lessons, meet with the parents, and create a new study plan;
- etc.

Evaluations to the rescue of the student(s): the teacher or a teaching team...
- assign students goals, express evaluation criteria, create a “scale” (evaluation system),
- give students a feedback tool (student suggestions and responses);
- adapt the teaching process to the needs of students by way of formal and informal evaluation;
- share information with students, urging them to move forward, overcome difficulties, and master new knowledge;
- use evaluation results to bolster student motivation, etc.;
- etc.

The student(s)are also encouraged to...
- engage in the self-evaluation process and evaluation of each other’s knowledge (in pairs);
- master the methods of knowledge-acquisition and usage of evaluation criteria;
- choose the most individually-suited work methods that best advance progress, note personal successes, ask themselves questions;
- use self-evaluation and teacher feedback in order to ponder fresh material and reinforce newfound knowledge;
- discuss with teachers the methods most likely to result in progress and, consequently, achieve the assigned goal;
- etc.