Testing understanding and not just facts

By JackHynes

I’ve been doing a PTLLS (Preparation to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector) course over the last few months and it’s really helped me to think about how effective I am – and could be – as a teacher* (*teacher, trainer, facilitator, tutor, whatever term you want to use).

One of the things I’ve been reflecting on lately is how I assess (or test) learning at the end of my sessions.

When I run a day to show people how to use their Lamplight database, I would normally accept that learning has taken place if they could complete the exercises I set. I’d address any other gaps during Q&A.

Is this enough?

My role on a training day is to leave people with the skill to be able to use their system effectively.

Can completing exercises achieve that?

I think it can help to a point but what I really need to be assessing is how well people can apply what we’ve covered to situations they’ll recognise back at the office.

I’m running a training session tomorrow and at the end I plan on doing things a bit differently. I’ll get people into pairs, or maybe two groups, and run a quick-fire quiz.

I’ll ask them things like:

  • How would get a new password?
  • What are the different ways to find profiles of people from the homepage?
  • How many different people have you worked with in the last year?
  • Give me the name of someone who attended [specific piece of work] in August.

Working in teams will add a competitive edge but also help them to share their methodologies.

(I realise this is probably obvious to a lot of you, I’m just starting out on this journey).

If you’re involved in training (particularly on IT tools) I’d be interested to hear how you assess the learning that’s taken place. Please leave me a comment.

A PTLLS microteach on copyright for the classroom

[Words of warning: If you have come here by searching “PTLLS” “microteach” then by all means take a look at what I did – I am sharing this with you after all – but your own microteach will only work if you are passionate and knowledgeable abut the content, just repeating what I did won’t work.]

A few weeks ago I asked you for ideas on what I could teach about copyright in 15 minutes. Last week was finally time to deliver the session.

The overall aim of the session was: To recognise three types of material licence in order to create legal resources for the classroom.

The specific objectives were:

  • By the end of the session students will be able to state the difference between copyright, public domain and Creative Commons material.
  • Match some of they key characteristics with these three types of licence.
  • Use licensed material in their own resources.

I started with a very quick brainstorm (or word shower as we have to say) on where people would get their online resources from. Websites such as Google, Yahoo, BBC News and Pinterest all came up.

To test their starting knowledge of copyright, public domain and Creative Commons I ran this quick true or false quiz.

I delivered a five minute presentation on a few key points:

  • What is copyright?
  • Who owns copyright and when is it applied?
  • What is the fair use exemption for education and how can it be used?
  • When do copyright materials enter the public domain?
  • What does public domain mean for using materials in the classroom?
  • How can people open up their own copyright with Creative Commons licences?

To test what they had heard I ran a matching exercise using the sheet below.

They were given 18 statements, all shuffled, that they had to match with the three types of licence. There were six statements per licence.

After going through the correct order on the matching exercise they had an opportunity to go back to their quiz to make any changes they wanted to their answers.

We ran through the answers, did a quick Q&A and handed out all of the completed sheets to wrap up the session.

Everyone seemed to think that the session had gone well and based on how new a lot of the information seemed to them it was clearly needed.

If I were to run the session again I’d have to be a lot tighter on the timings, perhaps cutting down one or two of the exercises.

Thanks to everyone who fed in their ideas at the planning stages.

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