“…tests and grades are anathema to andragogy, which assumes adults are capable of self-evaluating their own learning.”(p.57/58)
As I reflect on the quote, I found myself thinking about a classroom with no grading system and no tests? Is this something that can be done? I believe, that just like anything, there is a time and a place, and maybe an age? In our program, I feel most of my students are ready for the andragogy approach, but there are still a few fresh out of high school and more in pedagogy frame of mind. I am not saying that it couldn’t work. The more I read into andragogy, I realized that according to Knowles (1984) study, “it is flexible and the whole or parts can be applied,” (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p.59). Adapting what works for your individual classroom is what’s important. What caught my attention from this quote is how it says “assumes”, we assume adult learners are capable of self-evaluating. It doesn’t mean they all are capable, again I relate this back to our roles as an instructor, to facilitate our learner’s needs and goals as individuals.
What I have realized from this quote is that we are already adapting andragogy into our clinical classroom. Our students do a daily reflection entry, just short form, on how they feel they performed tasks in clinic, what they feel they could use to work on and were they successful in their skills? This is a daily exercise, which we check during our one on one interviews, throughout the year. These evaluations are for both the students benefit, and ours as instructors, we are looking for growth in our students, whether through a grade or a self-evaluation, the end result we want to see is the same.
My Aha! Moment came more during my reflection process, then reading the quote. What struck me was how I thought so highly of a grading system, that I didn’t think it would be possible to do without, when really it’s the end result that you are looking for. Can each student competently, complete the skills we are going to certify them for? Our students preform skills over and over again in clinical, they our developing and perfecting these skills, yet still we need to stick them in to a stressful situation, with a time line and a set of skills to preform to be able to give them a final mark. I wonder sometimes if this is the best way to achieve the results we are looking for, not all students handle being put on the spot, sometimes working with a student in a hands on activity, we may be able to better understand their level of knowledge. What would our clinic atmosphere be like if students didn’t feel the stress of upcoming finals, would they spend more time relaxing and completing tasks set out on a goal sheet? Could we give them a self-evaluation style assignment to achieve the same end result as a final? I am not sure if all my students have the maturity to complete such a task, during the beginning of the program. I think these type of skills are something that needs to be developed as a student grows and matures, by slowly introducing self-evaluations in our clinic, students are more prepared when they head out on practicums, at the end of our program, and need to self-evaluate their performance while away from the classroom.
Being a student myself, I am starting to understand the benefits from reflecting back on my own work. We need to learn the skills to critically evaluate ourselves. I think that just like being a lifelong learning, and how important it is continue to educate ourselves, being able to self-evaluate to promote growth, is a skill that everyone needs to develop. You can always try to guard yourself from failure, but in the end all you are really doing is limiting yourself from growth. By reflecting on this quote and the insight I have gain, has helped to bring the notion of our role as a facilitator, how we constantly need to be working with our students to understand what type of teaching approach will work best for each student and how we can help facilitate their growth from pedagogy to andragogy.