Fresh knowledge has in most cases an expiry date. In the new century, it is often much closer than before. The societal transformation that took decades during the past centuries now takes years and sometimes months. Despite this, the school-system still focuses on distributing and measuring knowledge. This is troublesome since it to a large extent prepares the learners with the knowledge that concerns yesterday’s news.
Deficits with traditional testing
Besides the problems with the focus on knowledge, the methods of traditional assessments often are too simplified, abstract and decontextualized to fulfil current educational requirements. To meet the demands of the 21st Century it is time to leave the fact-based assessments behind and turn to performance-based testing that measures understanding and skills.
“A test is education’s equivalent of a ruler, thermometer, or radar gun. But a test does not typically improve learning any more than a thermometer cures a fever; both are simply tools.”
Valerie Shute and Matthew Venture
Since an assessment besides measurement also include interpreting and acting exclusive information from the test-result is required. However, the fact-based knowledge tests are designed to measure particular pieces of knowledge and every question is seen as an independent data point. Thereby, the result will give evidence of the student’s knowledge about the pieces and their characteristics, but not if the student can form a clear image of understanding about the subject in focus.
Developing assessment with gamification
This is in sharp contrast to game-based assessment where sequences of interactions are measured. And these sequences often depend on each other, e.g. one decision affects the game and its tasks later on. The teacher will then have a “story” about the student’s actual understanding of a subject and her ability to perform tasks that are related to the subject. Another difference is that this assessment does not have to take place in a certain time and place for traditional testing. Instead, a game environment gives great possibilities for continually assessing the performance and understanding. This adds one more dimension since the teacher can measure the progress of understanding over time.
In conclusion, while the traditional assessment is built on the interpretation of piece-by-piece knowledge-data. Game-based assessments are an evidence-based method with much better prospects to give support for improvements over time. In the next part of this article-series, gamification and learning in the working life will be analysed.
Stealth Assessment – Measuring and Supporting Learning in Video Games by Valerie Shute and Matthew Ventura MacArthur Foundation