Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Formative Assessment + Rubrics + Learning Styles

I have been working in the past few days along more than one line. I need to 1) find an interesting, clear – not overwhelming – way to share whatever I am learning with my colleagues, 2) find practical ways to implement the most important pressing strategies into my teaching/learning context, and 3) study the feasibility of integrating / making use of technological tools as often as needed.

In “channel 2”, I find that formative assessment is essential for better instruction and better results. We should in fact make it at the basis of our lesson plans and not keep it a matter of oral feedback given by teachers to students. Rubrics are a must in this context so that gradually both teacher and student are aware of the latter’s learning strengths and weaknesses. It follows that these weaknesses have to be addressed and students have to be given the right contexts and guidance to work on them. That’s one place where getting to know students’ learning styles and helping them get to know what kind of learners they are is important. A variety of instructional strategies should be employed in class to cater to the various styles. However, having a learner-centered class that calls more for students’ engagement in lessons – which could be technology-enhanced – and focusing on enquiry, creativity, and problem solving in authentic situations does help teachers track their students’ performance and detect their learning style better than teacher-centered lessons that end in summative tests.
Last but not least, encouraging students’ reflections is an asset to the above. It helps them be more involved and aware and gives teachers an insight about their needs and how to account for them.

All of the above corrects one misconception I had concerning learning styles. My focus was solely on pace and on providing extra activities when needed. Now I am aware that these are integrated in the main lesson plans and that gives me a means of assessing these lesson plans.


  1. Dear Abdelnour,

    It's great that you're trying to share ideas with your colleagues. I've found the most productive way to do this is to wait for someone to talk about a problem that he or she is having, whereupon you can talk about a possible solution and offer to show that person how to implement it.

    In the classic explanations of the change process (see Diffusion of Innovation, for example at, there are different ways of responding to change. You've got innovators who embrace change readily (a very small percentage of people), early adopters who will follow the leadership of innovators once they see that the innovation works a bit (still a small number of people), then the early majority and late majority - most people - who will accept an innovation that has been shown to work. The early majority will look at what the early adopters have done, and the late majority will follow the early majority. There is also a category of laggards, who won't do nothing no how with nobody (so you might as well forget them and hope they retire soon).

    The key for me was realizing that innovators don't change the majority of people - it's early adopters and especially the early majority. If you're seen as an innovator on the cutting edge, you'll need to bring in a second group of people who are seen as more mainstream to really spread the word and have the innovation adopted. That's the way that seems to work best.

    If teachers at your school see a "problem" that they would like to resolve, then that's the opening to use.

    My more than $.02 worth!


  2. Thanks a lot for sharing. Your comment / advice offers a fresh and valid perspective. Then I guess I have to help them see the "problem" :-)!