Assessment is an essential aspect of education that seeks to measure learners’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes. It is very important in preparing learners to acquire the requisite demand of the 21st century job market as well as becoming a part of the socio-cultural and economic development of the country. Although there are various forms of assessment which can be used to measure abilities on an individual or small cluster basis, educational systems in Ghana have been heavily reliant on knowledge-based assessments that focus on testing learners’ ability to memorize and recall information. Research has shown that multiple assessment strategies that go beyond testing knowledge are more effective in promoting learners’ development and solving real-world issues, Pellegrino (2010)
The traditional educational system in Ghana is centered on the acquisition of knowledge and the ability to recall information. However, this approach fails to consider the practical application of the knowledge learned in real-world situations. This is why it is important to adopt multiple assessment strategies that take into account the ability of students to apply the knowledge they have acquired in real-life situations.
This paper aims to explore the potential of using multiple assessment strategies and potential solutions that could arise from adopting this approach, such as performance-based assessments, portfolios, observations, self-assessment, peer assessments, production assessments, and creative assessments, to address developmental issues in Ghana.
Performance-based assessments: These are series of effective assessment strategy that measures learners’ ability to apply knowledge and skills to real-life situations. This method requires students to perform a task that demonstrates their ability to apply the knowledge they have learned, such as designing and building a working model of an object to showcase their understanding of physics and engineering. Performance-based assessments can be utilized to solve Ghanaian developmental issues by evaluating learners’ ability to solve practical problems in their communities, such as designing and implementing sustainable waste management solutions or developing business models that address the needs of their local communities.
Portfolios: These are highly effective assessment strategies for evaluating student progress over a period of time. This method involves collecting and organizing samples of student work that showcase their growth and development based on predetermined criteria. A portfolio could contain various examples of student work, such as writing, art/design works, or other creative projects, which illustrate their progress and learning over time. In relation to Ghanaian developmental issues, portfolios can be utilized to document learners’ research on significant matters such as climate change, poverty, and health. Moreover, portfolios can also be used to track learners’ progress in generating solutions to these issues.
Observations: This is another assessment tool that can provide valuable insights into a student’s behavior, thought processes, and ability to apply knowledge in practical situations. By observing students in various settings, teachers can gain a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, observations involve assessing learners’ performance in real-life situations, such as their ability to interact with their environment, work in teams, and solve problems. In the context of Ghanaian developmental issues, observations can be used to evaluate learners’ ability to identify and address community needs, such as building a community library or developing a health education program.
Self-assessment. This assessment strategy does not only empowers students to reflect on their own learning and progress, but also promotes their metacognitive skills such as self-reflection and self-evaluation. By evaluating their own performance and setting goals for improvement, learners can take ownership of their learning and become more motivated to succeed. This approach can be particularly useful in the context of Ghanaian developmental issues as it encourages learners to reflect on their own experiences and identify areas where they can make meaningful contributions to their communities. For instance, learners can reflect on their involvement in community projects and identify ways to enhance their contributions.
Peer assessment: This strategy fosters critical thinking skills and collaboration among students. Through evaluating each other’s learning progress, students can learn how to provide constructive feedback and improve their work. This assessment strategy is particularly useful in promoting teamwork, which is important in addressing Ghanaian developmental issues. Peer assessments can be used to evaluate students’ ability to work in teams and develop solutions to community problems. For instance, students can be asked to evaluate each other’s contributions to community projects and provide feedback on areas for improvement.
Production assessment: This form of assessment focuses on evaluating the final product of a student’s work, instead of the process, and can be applied to a wide range of skills, such as writing, public speaking, coding, and design. This approach evaluates learners’ ability to generate tangible products that demonstrate their learning progress, which can promote creativity and innovation. By using production assessments, Ghanaian learners can showcase their ability to develop solutions to community problems, such as creating a prototype for a solar-powered water pump or a mobile health clinic.
Creative assessment: Encouraging creativity and innovation in students is a crucial aspect of modern education. Creative assessment is an effective strategy that challenges students to think creatively and develop innovative solutions to real-world problems. By fostering creativity, teachers can equip students with the skills they need to succeed in today’s rapidly changing world. Creative assessments involve evaluating learners’ ability to express themselves creatively, which can be valuable in promoting their artistic skills and imagination. In the context of Ghanaian developmental issues, creative assessments can be used to assess learners’ capacity to communicate community issues in creative ways. For instance, learners can be tasked with creating a public art installation that addresses a community problem, such as deforestation or pollution.
THE LONG TERM BENEFITS
Assessment is an essential aspect of education that helps to measure learning outcomes and identify areas for improvement. In Ghana, the education system has been undergoing significant reforms to improve the quality of education and promote national development. One of the key initiatives that could contribute to this effort is the implementation of multiple assessment strategies. Here are some potential solutions that could arise from adopting this approach:
Enhanced learning outcomes: By implementing multiple assessment strategies, students can be evaluated using various methods, such as written tests, oral presentations, and project work. This can lead to a more comprehensive evaluation of students’ learning outcomes and provide valuable feedback to teachers, parents, and students themselves. This, in turn, can lead to improved learning outcomes and better preparation for the job market.
Equity and Inclusion: Multiple assessment strategies can help to promote equity and inclusion in education by allowing students with different learning styles and abilities to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Students who may struggle with traditional written tests can be evaluated using other methods that are more appropriate for their learning style, such as practical demonstrations or group projects. This can help to reduce inequalities in the education system and ensure that all students have equal opportunities to succeed.
Professional Development: The implementation of multiple assessment strategies requires the training of educators, administrators, and other stakeholders. This training can provide opportunities for professional development, improve the quality of teaching, and promote collaboration among educators. This can contribute to the overall improvement of the education system in Ghana.
Curriculum Improvement: The use of multiple assessment strategies can help to identify gaps in the curriculum and inform improvements to teaching and learning materials. By evaluating students using various methods, educators can identify areas where students may be struggling and adjust the curriculum accordingly. This can lead to a more effective curriculum that is better aligned with the needs of students and the demands of the job market.
Global Competitiveness: Implementing multiple assessment strategies can help to improve Ghana’s competitiveness in the global economy. By preparing students with a range of skills and knowledge, they will be better equipped to succeed in the global job market. This can help to attract investment, create jobs, and promote economic growth.
Implementing multiple assessment strategies in Ghana has the potential to significantly improve the quality of education and contribute to national development. However, it is crucial to approach this initiative with careful planning and implementation to ensure its effectiveness and equity. Collaboration among educators, administrators, and other stakeholders is key to aligning the multiple assessment strategies with the needs of students, the education system, and the wider society. By doing so, Ghana can create a more comprehensive and inclusive education system that prepares students for success in the global job market, promotes economic growth, and reduces inequalities in education. It is therefore important to invest in the necessary resources, training, and support to make the implementation of multiple assessment strategies a success in Ghana.
A CLARION CALL
To successfully adopt multiple assessment strategies in Ghanaian schools, it is important to redesign the assessment strategies used by the institution mandated to assess learners in Ghana. Currently, the West African Examination Council (WAEC) is responsible for overseeing such assessment of learners in Ghana, unfortunately, it has over the years focused primarily towards knowledge-based assessments. Judging from the demands of the 21st century job market, where knowledge, practical skills, creativity, problem-solving and the right attitude are the core requirements, I will like to suggest that either WAEC re-orient its assessment strategies or other institutions who can effectively handle other assessment strategies should be brought on board to partner WAEC. On the other hand, a new institution or body could be created to oversee the adoption of multiple assessment strategies in Ghanaian schools, ensuring that students are better prepared to solve real-world problems and contribute to Ghana’s development
In conclusion, adopting multiple assessment strategies in Ghanaian schools is essential if we are to prepare our students for success in the 21st century job market space. By focusing on performance-based assessments, portfolios, observations, self-assessments, peer assessments, production assessments, creative assessments, and authentic assessments, we can create a well-rounded approach to education that prepares students for the challenges they will face in their careers and in life. It is time for us to move away from just the traditional knowledge-based assessment approach and embrace more practical and applicable forms of assessment.
Source: Obengfo Kwasi Gyetuah