Why “Assessment Tasks” Rock

posted in: Assessment | 0

When I am learning anything, I love getting results! My “result matters” approach is all about assessment tasks. So, if you want to learn how to drive up your results + have way more fun, keep reading … 

Example. I want to improve my ability to putt in golf. First, I define my goals (i.e., learning outcomes):  Goal #1.  I know the fundamentals of the putting stroke. Goal #2. I putt well.

Second, I define my Assessment Tasks (AT):

  • AT #1. From memory, explain the fundamentals of the putting stroke to a PGA pro and do this so well that he or she will validate that I have solid knowledge.
  • AT #2. On the practice green, I will putt 4 times at 3 randomly selected holes (12 total putts) and make sure that I can sink more than 50% of my putts. I will be able to hit this goal on 80% of the days I play golf.

This example illustrates some attributes of an Assessment task (AT)

  • An AT describes something that is useful;  i.e.,  something that is worth learning.
  • At AT answers the question: what will I be able to do if I have learned well.
  • At AT is specific and measurable.  I either can sink 50% of my putts from 6 feet or not.
  • At AT describes the conditions (from memory, closed book, on the practice green, …..)

An Assessment Task is defined as something that a person who has learned well can do.

There are two main reasons why ATs work.

  1.  The brain likes concrete and specific. The brain does not do well with “vague.” The AT transforms a vague idea (e.g., learn golf) into a concrete and desirable goal.
  2. The brain, when you reach a goal, releases dopamine which provides you with a burst of euphoria. Thus, when you accomplish an assessment task, you will get a natural high. This is why I say that authentic learning feels like the best thing ever invented.

I like to organize my ATs into categories:

  • Fact/Concepts.  I know the facts and concepts about topic XYZ.
  • Process (How To).  I can explain how to XYZ well.
  • Self Knowledge. I can explain why I believe that XYZ is important or unimportant.
  • Product/Performance.  I can do XYZ well.  I can build XYZ.