Axial Assessment: The 21st Century Answer to Assessment

The current state of student assessment in the classroom is mediocre, vague, and reprehensibly flawed. In much of higher education, we educators stake a moral high ground on positivistic academics. Case in point: assessment. We claim that our assessments within the classroom are objective, not subjective. After all, you wouldn’t stand in front of class and say that your grading is subjective and that students should just deal with it, right? Can we honestly examine a written paper or virtually any other assessment in our courses and claim that we grade completely void of bias? Let’s put this idea to the test. Take one of your assessments previously completed by a student. Grade the assignment using your rubric. Afterwards, have another educator among the same discipline grade the assignment using your exact rubric. Does your colleague’s grade and yours match? How far off are the two grades? If your assessment is truly objective, the grades should be exact. Not close but exact. Anything else reduces the reliability of your assessment.
Types of assessment
The problem with my argument so far is the intention of the assessment. What if you are interested in formative assessment? You may use observations or questions to start a formative assessment among students, which is absolutely appropriate. The problem is when we as educators attach a grade to the assessment or use a summative assessment that has a documented impact (e.g., grade) on the student. For entirely too long, we have given …