So after much deliberation and research, I’ve decided to specialise into assessments and they way that these can affect us on a personal and psychological level. Each week I’m going to look into a different type of assessment and how this can affect us, such as weekly testing and the link to anxiety and cramming and how this influences our retention levels. This week I decided to stick to a general format and establish definitions and start to link this to certain psychological theories… so here goes.
So what is assessment? Fenton (1966) describes it, as ‘Assessment is the collection of relevant information that may be relied on for making decisions’. Evangeline Harris Stefanakis (2002), “The word assess comes from the Latin ‘assidere’, which means to sit beside. Literally then, to assess means to sit beside the learner.” Davis (2000) takes this further and states that assessment is ” learning that is ongoing, and requires deep involvement on the part of the learner in clarifying outcomes, monitoring on-going learning, collecting evidence and presenting evidence of learning to others.”
Throughout education we are assessed in a number of ways, by the time we reach university we tend to know which forms we enjoy, which ones will cause us anxiety and stress and which ones need to be worked harder towards. Personally, I find exams a particularly stressful time (I’m aware that we all do), I often become so stressed that I make myself ill, meaning that exams are spent trying to survive the actual time period rather than focusing on the exam itself. I’m also not a fan of group work, I find that group work (especially in university) can lead to a concept called ‘social loafing’, to define this simply, its when a person in the group feels that they do not need to work as hard towards the task as the other people in the group will pull them through. Linden et al (2004) conducted field research into social loafing; they found that large group sizes lead to increased levels of social loafing. However, they also found evidence of social compensation effect, this is when people work harder collectively when they perceive that an individual in the group will perform poorly on a meaningful task. Williams et al (1991) studied social loafing and social compensation: the effects of expectation of co-worker performance, they found that a person’s trust was directly manipulated by a confederate’s statement intending their effort.
Education in the Victorian Era focused on making individuals stand up in front of their classmates and teachers and recite information (it could be argued that schooling hasn’t changed much), this lead to high achievers excelling in the classroom and low achievers becoming withdrawn, furthermore, this could of lead children to become anxious within the classroom setting and unwilling to participate. Boivin et al (2009) studied ‘The roles of social withdrawal, peer rejection, and victimization by peers in predicting loneliness and depressed mood in childhood’ and found that withdrawing within a classroom lead to peer rejection and depression in later childhood, in turn this affected achievement within the classroom.
Personally I believe that the way we are assessed can influence the way we develop, if we are assessed in a more aggressive manner, like the Victorian system, this can lead to social withdrawal which can further lead to depression. This could also be added to being assessed in anyway we feel uncomfortable with, such as presentations or weekly testing. However, like I said previously, this blog has just touched on a few of the issues that I will be researching into in my next few installments. Next week I will build on these issues and extend points made throughout this session.
Davies, A. (2000) Making Classroom Assessment Work. Merville, BC: Connections Publishing
Fenton, R. (1996). Performance assessment system development. Alaska Educational Research Journal, 2(1), 13-22
Stefanakis, E. (2002) Multiple Intelligences and Portfolios. Portsmouth: Heinemann