December 6, 2023

What is a “non-threatening” assessment?

As the title suggests, a “non-threatening assessment” is an assessment that provides teachers with assessment data to measure mastery and revise planned instruction (Evaluation purpose) without intimidating students.

This form of assessment has some general characteristics.

Camouflaged: This may feel like a quiz or test, but may be ungraded or verbal, or less intimidating to students.

Less obvious/invisible: Sometimes, students may not even know there is an assessment. An exit sheet with relevant and concise questions is one example.

faster/shorter: These can also be shorter assessments – something as simple as a “pro/con”.

What are the benefits of a simple, non-threatening assessment?

as Terrell Heck say in An Inconvenient Truth About Evaluation’, “Learning assessments sometimes obscure more than they reveal. If an assessment conforms precisely to a given standard, neither the teacher nor the assessment designer correctly understands that standard, and there is no common linguistic influence between students, teachers, assessment designers, and course developers regarding the content and its Significant “noise” that can mislead those who wish to use the data and undermine any efforts at data-based teaching. “

“Testing” also has some untesting benefits.

Accurate assessment

The presence of test anxiety can greatly affect student performance and distort results. When students are overwhelmed by anxiety, their cognitive abilities and ability to recall information may be adversely affected, leading to poor grades. By alleviating test anxiety, educators can more accurately reflect students’ true abilities, knowledge, and talents.

fair and just

“Intimidating assessments” can disproportionately affect some students and create an unfair learning environment. Students with test anxiety may be equally capable but may underperform due to their level of anxiety. By minimizing test anxiety, educators can create a fairer assessment system that ensures all students have an equal opportunity to demonstrate their true abilities.

Promote a positive learning environment

High-stakes testing and excessive test anxiety create a stressful and fear-driven learning environment. This hinders student motivation, engagement, and overall learning enjoyment. By minimizing test anxiety, educators can create a more positive and supportive learning environment, foster a love of learning and encourage students to reach their full potential.

encourage a growth mindset

Test anxiety often stems from a fixed mindset, where students believe their abilities are fixed and cannot be improved. By using non-threatening assessment strategies, educators can help foster a growth mindset that emphasizes that competencies can be developed through effort, practice, and learning from mistakes. This can build resilience, motivation and a willingness to take on challenges.

see also 25 Sentence Stems to Help Students Develop a Growth Mindset

improve well-being

Excessive test anxiety can negatively impact a student’s mental and emotional well-being. It can lead to increased stress, low self-esteem, and even physical symptoms like headaches and sleep disturbances. Educators contribute to the overall well-being of students through different approaches, promoting healthy and supportive learning environments.

see also Mindfulness Teaching Techniques

To assess students without causing test anxiety, educators can employ a variety of strategies, such as providing clear instruction, providing opportunities for practice, varying assessment methods, providing a supportive classroom atmosphere, and emphasizing the learning process rather than just Final Results. By adopting these approaches, educators can create a more inclusive, supportive, and effective assessment environment for all students.

You can find a list of non-threatening assessments compiled by OCPS Course Services K Lambert strategy here.

Attributed to K Lambert, OCPS Course Services