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Assessing student learning in media studies

Assessment is bigger than NCEA. It is the means (provides the evidence) by which we are able to judge how effective our teaching is, and for whom. And it is the means by which students can measure their progress.

Teaching is only about motivating and supporting the student to make considered and reflective decisions about his or her learning. The learner is at the heart of it all.

Diagnostic and formative assessment

Effective teachers use diagnostic and formative assessment:

  • to identify different students’ strengths and needs
  • to provide detailed and thorough measurement of students’ progress
  • to identify the impacts of their teaching and the implications for future teaching.

Effective learning comes from a learning-focused relationship between teacher and student. Absolum (2006) suggests there will be:

  • shared clarity about next steps for learning
  • promotion of further learning
  • clarity about what is to be learned and why
  • assessment for learning
  • active reflection.

What might this look like in the media studies classroom?

Teachers could:

  • share, discuss, and even co-construct success criteria with their students
  • wait longer for answers to questions and ask more open-ended questions
  • use peer and self-marking equally alongside teacher marking
  • give feedback in relation to success criteria and feed-forward that clearly articulates the next steps for learning
  • use a variety of modes of assessment to allow students to demonstrate understanding within their area of strength (for example, podcasts, visual presentations, and written reports are different modes of assessment that will advantage or disadvantage learners according to their individual strengths).

Media studies focuses on how students learn as well as what they learn. How can you show the process by which their learning develops? What is the evidence of this process? What has happened for the student? What are the wider outcomes?

Evidence for an effective media studies assessment may include the student’s plan, their journal or online log, evidence (for example, photographs) that they have carried out their planned actions, and their written evaluations of their work.

Involve students in their own assessment

Knowing what is expected of them strengthens the ability of media studies students to judge when they have got there and contributes to developing their ability to manage self.

Base formative assessment on shared learning intentions and explicit success criteria, developed through quality discourse and learning conversations and reinforced by focused feedback.

Peer and self-assessment exercises, opportunities for reflection together with attention to the processes of reflection, and journals or portfolios are all useful tools to help students benefit from assessment information. Students could keep blogs or visual diaries as formative and even summative assessment tools.

Students in pairs or small groups could grade or annotate exemplar scripts then compare their evaluations with the actual rankings in class discussion.

In addition to teacher assessment and self-evaluation, students may also find it useful to seek feedback from other people (extended family, people in the community). E-portfolios, blogs, and websites are useful tools for collaborative sharing and feed-forward.

Last updated September 14, 2011