The value of continuous assessment

What keeps you motivated on your educational and career path? Is it big dreams of huge financial successes? Is it the idea of launching a product, service or company that provides an urgent need in society? Perhaps it’s the goal of being one’s own boss.

We all have different goals and objectives that propel our desire to fruition. And along the way, external support and validation can either play a key role or cause friction.

The M Factor

From the time a student’s educational journey begins, all the way back to primary levels of schooling, teachers and instructors are on hand to impart material, provide instruction, motivate, guide and support students all the way to graduation. The role of motivation through assessment is invaluable in identifying exciting talents and students with exceptional potential and abilities.

Motivation via assessment also translates to mentorship once the student steps out into the big world of corporate companies, diverse new environments, co-workers and new goals. The role of a mentor, which can often be a huge factor in one’s success, is to assess and motivate your growth trajectory.

In fact, mentorship has a long and storied history, dating back to the times of Homer’s Odyssey. In the poem, set some three thousand years ago, Telemachus, son of Odysseus, is assigned into the care of Mentor, a companion of his father. In the time when Odysseus is away at war, Telemachus is supported and cared for by Mentor.

We can draw on numerous cultural examples of assessment and motivation as well. Harry Potter and Dumbledore, Luke Skywalker and Yoda, Socrates and Plato, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey, to name a few.

Within this context, the role of mentorship and motivation can only provide value through continuous assessment throughout a student’s formative years.

Many studies and research methodologies bear out the idea, “Formative assessment, which is a classroom practice that identifies students’ learning needs through assessments and then adapts the teaching and learning to these needs, has been suggested as a possible way of supporting student motivation.”

One of the biggest benefits of continuous and formative student assessment is the ability to intervene at early stages. One such study notes that, “Formative assessment for instruction and student learning is the process used to improve curriculum construction, teaching, and learning through student feedback and self-assessment. Formative assessments differ from summative assessment, which most educators are accustomed to, in which the evaluation occurs at the end of a teaching unit to evaluate learning and assign a grade. Sadler (1989) proposed that formative assessment focuses on two central themes, facilitating student self-regulation and feedback. Formative assessment provides corrective measures so learners can succeed using feedback.”

A mirror for success

To support career growth and eventual success, assessment is a practical and valuable tool that holds up a mirror to a student’s progress and path. Wiliam and Black defines assessment as “activities undertaken by teachers… which provides information to be used as feedback to modify teaching and learning” (Black & Wiliam 2010). Assessment provides an opportunity for teachers to encourage and motivate learners for lifelong educational success.

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