By Dr S Alexander
Written assessments of children's learning using subjective approaches, such as Learning Stories, report what teachers/educators see, hear and think children are doing.
But how is it really possible to know from these assessments how children are learning - and how does the teacher know what children have learnt?
The processes of learning are crucial but difficult to define and assess.
Many New Zealand research projects have sought (with limited success) to describe processes of learning (e.g. schema and dispositions) and have generally neglected learning outcomes (what it is that children are learning and have learnt).
Current approaches to assessment in New Zealand embrace subjectivity. Teacher bias in carrying out and reporting assessments can therefore be high.
Highlighting the problem of teacher bias an experienced educator described the difficulty of knowing how children learn in the following way:
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