A fundamental shift from these traditional techniques to an appraisal system that identifies learner’s needs would allow for the development of students in an environment devoid of targets and political/socio-economical requirements. It is suggested that student performance gains will then occur naturally.
This argument tends to be supported by Professor Paul Black of King’s College, London who was quoted in the Times Educational Supplement as saying that “...school testing systems contribute little to improving pupil performance”.
If one focusses on a student’s individual learning needs, and grading systems are removed, students can still develop progressively and naturally. Such an environment would serve to foster intrinsic motivation i.e. individual desire to learn. If this desire is cultivated and competitive testing is removed, then individual learning gains over traditional methods can be significant.
Cultivation of intrinsic motivation will be stimulated by regular self-assessment. What is needed is for regular tutorials to be conducted, i.e. interviews, with students to identify learning problems and anticipated learning outcomes. From such a tutorial can emerge an action plan for student development based on individual learning needs. The secret here is to encourage the student to reflect on their own performance, and what they have learned, in a positive, structured and developmental way. By doing this the student learns to reflect, and the thirst for knowledge grows through self-motivation as the learning experience becomes more enjoyable, rather than based on extrinsic motivation (the need to achieve performance targets).
In order not to undermine this process of self reflection and intrinsic development, it is important to remember that such gains will only occur when responses given in such tutorials by training staff are for the learning benefit of the student, not for managerial benefit.
What has been your experience of this process? Have you experienced for yourself how rewarding it can be?