School-based Enquiry: Google docs & AfL

I attended my third MA session this evening; the first session of Module 2: Assessment for Learning. Unlike Module 1: School-based Enquiry, this module centres around reading and secondary research. After receiving my ‘Module Reader’ it prompted me to knuckle down this evening and try to finish refining the focus of my School-based Enquiry.

While I have had a clear idea of what I wanted to focus on it has been quite difficult to put it concisely into words. I feel that I am close and hope that writing this post will help me to add further clarity.

It is my intention to investigate the impact Google docs can have on assessment for learning. I wish to build upon and refine practices that I put in place last year. With careful thought given to the pedagogy, I believe that Google docs can transform assessment for learning, making it more efficient and effective for students; increasing the rate of progress that they make.

One of the keys to this is the ability to re-use a piece of students writing multiple times  – conducting self, peer, and teacher based assessment; each time allowing the student to develop and improve their work. This continual input combined with the ability to re-edit without ‘recreating’ the writing, each time, puts greater emphasis on the learning than on the assessment. This is arguably the most important feature of AfL; too often neglected in favour of grades and target setting with little consideration given to what the student should do with that information. The response can be instant rather than: “Here is your target, think about that next time we do assessment”. I am saying: “Here is how you have done, now edit your document, correcting, adding, deleting, changing etc…”

Using Google docs in this way removes the dreaded ‘red pen’; removes the finality of assessed work on paper; and in my own experience – removes the urge to stick a grade on the work. The process is more that of author, working through a draft, editing and refining their work. The feedback from peers and teacher take on equal status, acting as the voice of the editor with the student able to acknowledge the criticisms and act upon them focussing on learning and improvement.

Have you used Google docs to support assessment for learning? If you have, I would love to hear about how you used it and what the outcomes were. Please respond to this post or send me an @reply on Twitter using the following hash tag: #mainedu.

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James Michie

Husband, Educator, Writer, Runner...

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