Assessment Without Feedback: Does Learning Occur?

When there is assessment without feedback who is learning? Is it the primary learner or the observer? Which is preferred? Does it matter? 

Maybe we should ask if the assessment was formative or summative, right? If the assessment was summative, then the lack of feedback could indicate that we are done. The learning episode is over; you got it or you didn’t. You met the target, fell short of the target, or exceeded expectations. No second chance; it is what it is. I suppose we should consider summative assessment without feedback to be like Web 1.0. Information is posted, period. It is a lecture. The communication goes one way only. The assessment is static. Even if it is summative assessment, Web 1.0 assessment, shouldn’t the learner see the results?

Now if it is formative assessment, the question gets more challenging. Formative assessment without feedback, hmm…Does learning occur? Who is learning? Should formative assessment more like Web 2.0? Can the assessment be dynamic? Can we engage in conversation?…make changes?…grow together?…learn collaboratively?

Will you consider the following assessment examples and the impact of no feedback?

Example 1:
I watch KW work and notice that she consistently adds when she should subtract. I have learned; I am informed. I might adjust my next lesson, but in the absence of feedback, has KW learned?

Example 2:
I proof-read what QS has written and observe that QS uses semicolons where he needs commas; I am informed. How about QS? Does he learn without feedback?

Example 3:
@JoeSchmo81 observes me in class with learners and discovers that one of his students, SE, outwardly engages more in my class than in his class. @JoeSchmo81 learns that I have a method that he wants, he has questions. If @JoeSchmo81 doesn’t share his feedback, will he learn how-and-why I do what I do? Will I be surprised to learn that @JoeSchmo81 thinks my technique with SE is working? Will I grow to pay attention to my learners in a different, better way?

Example 4:
I assess my learner’s disposition. I ask them journal to tell me how they feel. How they feel; not how the class feels. I learn that I have hesitant nervous learners that feel unsuccessful even in the face of good grades. I change my actions to work on the confidence of the class. I do not write each individual student back. Will they learn to be more confident and less hesitant?

Can we call any of the examples above formative assessment? Is it possible to have authentic formative assessment without offering feedback? We all agree that writing “good job” across work is not adequate. Shouldn’t we say what was good about it? How individualized does the feedback need to be? Is “Good Job!” better than no feedback?

No feedback leaves the learner to wonder, worry, and question. Is my work acceptable? Is my work so horrible that it is not worth the time it would take to comment? Am I doing great so no news is good news? Was it bad and they don’t know how to tell me?

Do you think that Web 1.0 is better and more informative than nothing? Does Web 2.0 improve communication and learning? And what will Web 3.0 bring?

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