International Essay S 2013

The latest international assessment of students’ mathematical, scientific and reading literacy – the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) – shows that the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students has remained the same for the last decade.

In short, Indigenous 15-year-olds remain approximately two-and-a-half years behind their non-Indigenous peers in schooling.

There is a well-established way of thinking about schooling. What students are expected to learn at school is spelled out in the school curriculum.

The role of teachers is to teach the relevant year-level curriculum.

Indeed, simply watching somebody else perform activates ‘mirror’ neurons in the observer paralleling neuronal activity in the performer.

The ability to visualise success and an accompanying belief that success is possible appear to be prerequisites for most forms of human achievement.In 2005, researchers in the United States estimated that approximately 20 per cent of the US population were highly maths anxious.Given the cultural similarities between the US and Australia, we can assume that the percentage would be comparable here.Students are then graded on how well they have learnt what teachers have taught.The alternative is to think differently about the nature of learning; the characteristics of learners; the school curriculum; what it means to ‘teach’; the role of assessment; and the nature of ‘reporting’ – in short, to think differently about schooling itself.The field continues to be dominated by twentieth century introductory textbook concepts, including such dichotomies as formative versus summative assessment, criterion-referenced versus norm-referenced testing, quantitative versus qualitative assessment, informal versus formal assessment – distinctions that often hamper rather than promote clear thinking about assessment.HTML | PDF Success in most fields of endeavour depends on an ability to visualise success.This essay provides a précis of the results and analysis of some of the issues; and discusses a range of implications for policy and practice.HTML | PDF The approaches we take to assessing learning, the kinds of tasks we assign and the way we report success or failure at school send powerful messages to students not only about their own learning, but also about the nature of learning itself.HTML | PDF Advances in our understanding of human learning require new approaches to assessing and monitoring student learning.Much assessment thinking has changed little over the past fifty years.

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