Why Do We Have to Learn this Stuff?

QuestionDid you ever have a student make that comment? Those words rang in my mind after reading Lorrie Shepard’s (2000) article The Role of Assessment in a Learning Culture.  Especially, this quote by John Franklin Bobbitt, a leader in the social efficiency theory of assessment.

“A primary goal of curriculum design was the elimination of waste (1912), and it was wasteful to teach people things they would never use.”

Some students truly believe that they only need to learn what they will use.  This belief is the basis for both Shepard and Paul Black & Dylan William’s articles that advocate for a change in assessment.  When you think of assessment do you think of end of the unit tests given after all of the objectives have been taught?  Or do you think of assessment as part of the learning process giving throughout instruction?  A shift in thinking about assessment can dramatically improve a student’s learning and can be used for optimal learning.

In my paper, found here, I summarize both Shepard and Paul Black & Dylan William’s articles on classroom assessment.  They both plea to government for change and give strategies for assessment.

Let’s hope our students can walk away from our classrooms with a shifted belief in learning and assessment and instead make the comment, “What else is there to learn?”.

“Could we create a learning culture where students and teachers would have a shared expectation that finding out what makes sense and what doesn’t is a joint and worthwhile project, essential to taking the next steps in learning?” -Lorrie Shepard


Black, P. & Williams, D. (1998).  Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 80(2), 139-144.

Shepard, L. (2000). The role of assessment in a learning culture. Educational Researcher, 29(7), 4-14.


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