Opinion and Editorial – November 10, 2007 The Jakarta Post
Hanung Triyoko, Melbourne
[The writer is a lecturer at STAIN Salatiga and a student in the Master’s Program of Educational Leadership and Management, La Trobe University, Melbourne. He can be reached at
New teaching style needed
Many teachers and parents know children nowadays listen more to their iPods than to their words. Students have huge numbers of sources of information in this era of information technology. Teachers and parents are challenged by the attractiveness of computer-assisted information resources and their being more affordable for wider communities.
As a consequence, it is becoming harder and harder for the traditional approach of teaching to control student behavior since students share other values offered by the multimedia.
Take an example; teachers may need more than just words to ensure students read the recommended books for the following lessons. Students may spend most of their time after school utilizing advanced technology like the internet and cyber-gaming, and think that books are just out of character.
It does not mean that teachers can no longer refer to books as lesson materials, but merely depending on books in today’s classroom is like going out for dinner in a Padang restaurant with no intention of spending more money. We may satisfy our hunger but may not satisfy our appetite despite the variety of food available.
It is wiser to understand than to control students’ behavior. Teachers need to apply new methods of assessment that allow students to choose what they want to learn and to show in their own ways the results of their learning. Teachers also need to collaborate more with parents and other stakeholders in assuring the achievement of individual student learning objectives.
Tests as the traditional way of student assessments are limited in their capacity to cover all domains of students’ abilities. Tests generally measure the students’ cognitive ability, whereas the psychomotoric as well as the affective abilities remain unseen. The main purposes of assessments are to report, to guide and to diagnose student learning.
Therefore, considerations of sources of learning and preferred styles of learning are also very important in choosing appropriate kinds of assessments for students. All the high-tech stuff that students today are engaged with every day influences the development of their three skill domain sand assessing their cognitive skill only is unfair.
In his thesis “Continuous Assessment in Bhutan: Science Teachers’ Perspective”, Chewang (1999) defines continuous assessment, or authentic assessment, or alternative assessment, as a special method of assessment by which teachers at regular intervals assess students over the whole course.
Thus, things to assess can be diaries, videos, power point presentations, audio recordings, simulations of real-life problems and even parents’ notes and commentaries.
The application of this new method of assessment allows students to develop positive feelings of achievement by showing others what they can do rather than what they do not know. Very few students perform well in all subjects they are studying but all students deserve appreciation for what they are good at.
Imagine what opportunities this continuous assessment provides for students who are only average at many of their courses, but skillful in others.
Besides, continuous assessment enables teachers to diagnose the relevance of their curriculum and lesson materials to students’ life outside school. Students are also in control of what they are going to learn.
Students are expected to assess themselves in all stages prior to their final projects using all possible data like notations in group meetings, footage, photos and portfolios to see their progress toward the objective of their studies.
Parents and other students may take part in this process through parent and peer assessments. Teachers make themselves available for giving quality feedback to highlight each student’s strengths and weaknesses on continuous scheduled assessment days.
Students should clarify all commentaries given by teachers to remedy all their weaknesses and most importantly to spell out any misunderstanding of value judgment. Students are permitted to defend their own criteria of accomplishments based on their personal traits and background, and teachers should place more value on students’ critical thinking and move beyond the one-right-answer model.
Continuous assessment gives teachers more responsibilities in students’ learning progress and they may have to spend much more time preparing and doing the assessments.
Applying consistently the continuous assessment in one particular subject will eventually lead to students’ improving in other subjects as well. Indeed, all records of students’ performances may be retrieved for future use such as when students need to convince interviewers for job vacancies of their computer and interpersonal communication skills, as well as foreign language mastery.
No matter how complicated and problematical this continuous assessment may sound in the context of our education system, consensus should be made by educational leaders to give the continuous assessment a go.