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Teaching and learning tricky topics
Teaching and learning tricky topics

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1 What are tricky topic quizzes and assessment?

Approaches to assessment and standardised exams haven’t changed since they were first created in China in 605AD. The tricky topic process takes a fundamentally different approach to assessment, in order to assess deep learning rather than surface learning. Its approach also seeks to ensure accurate formative feedback to students and teachers on the students’ progression. Finally, the tricky topic process not only supports identifying and designing different types of interventions, based upon students problems and their causes, it also helps to create assessment approaches to evaluate if those interventions have been successful.

While great advancements in general student-directed learning support have been made there is a slower development in supporting assessment systems’ pedagogical underpinning, social/organisational test creation and implementation procedures.

Similarly there needs to be a greater understanding of how assessment results are integrated into innovations in student-directed learning pathways. Most research has focused on the test creation, storage and marking. However, what is often missing are the links between assessment and personalised understanding for the student themselves.

This requires a shift in thinking about assessment from a competitive way of comparing students to a way of supporting them to develop deeper understanding. This requires teachers to use assessment to help support students’ understanding where their gaps in understanding are, and how to overcome those gaps. Tests, in themselves, are learning and can inform teaching practices after the assessment and support student-directed learning.

It is important to note that this does not suggest that the means increase the number of tests students take, rather to carefully create tests (through tricky topic processes) and use creative ways to engage students in the tests.