Learner Motivation & Assessment Culture

Expanding on the discussion of Learner Personas and understanding learner motivations, I wonder if we are feeding the learner obsession with tests through the assessment culture we’ve created. If we emphasize exams as the primary assessment tool, do we really have any right to become frustrated with students who emphasis learning that helps them excel within that assessment culture? Assessment is a theme that I seem to return to again and again. Especially now, working in a competency based curriculum, I realize how difficult it is to overcome our dependence on exams.

Even the way we respond to marks-driven students seems problematic. In order to “ensure” student engagement, we start to artificially attach marks to every aspect of the learning experience, which has two key problems: 

#1 – It reinforces students belief that the only learning worth engaging is has an extrinsic value attach to it

#2 – It bloats the gradebook so much that many of the marks start to become meaningless, thus failing to actually solve the problem

I think curriculum developers and learning designers, especially in higher ed, really do need to take a hard look at their assessment models and what values they are instilling in students. This is another topic that I’d really like to look at more in depth because I think there must be another answer than the exam model. 

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