Should we assess effort and attitude in our students? Some colleagues and I were discussing the question. One colleague said, “Absolutely not. How can you know how much effort someone is putting into an assignment? How do you know what their attitude is?” The smiling bubbling extrovert would always get high marks and the quiet, contemplative student, well, who knows?
It made me think of my own effort at starting this blog.
Six months ago my friend and colleague, Andy Vasily, showed me his website/blog PYP PE with Andy and I was impressed. I thought that it looked like a powerful tool, and it certainly has inspired interesting discussions and collaborative PE lessons this year. Andy offered to help me set up a website and I started it off with enthusiasm. And then my site lay dormant.
If anyone was assessing my effort and attitude it would have looked as if I had given up and didn’t care about it anymore. Not true. I realized that I hadn’t set myself a clear goal and I didn’t know what I wanted to achieve with the website. Instead of uploading more photos and articles onto the site (which would have looked like I put a lot of effort into it) I started observing other blogs. What were other people doing? What interested me most? If I did start a blog, how could it help me learn? I didn’t talk about it with anyone, but I was constantly reflecting upon it. I was putting a lot of effort into it. In the end I started a different blog with a defined goal.
So what are our students thinking about, what do they have ‘brewing’ in the backs of their minds? We talk about giving students opportunity to reflect and improve yet I think often our assignments require an outburst of visible effort, a finished product and then we assess them.
Dylan William suggests we offer more feedback to our students and fewer grades. With feedback, discussion and time, maybe our students would delve deeper into a project and work with passion. Fostering effort and attitude seems like a better idea that assessing it.