This piece in Forbes by Dan Fitzpatrick makes some interesting points about assessment, quoting several educators. I admit that I have not given assessment as much thought as I should when considering AI. A simplistic perspective is that we write to learn and think through ideas. If you take a shortcut with AI, skipping the brain work, you are self-sabotaging for short-term gain and setting yourself up for long-term failure.

My view has been that if a student uses AI to skip the learning, then they have hurt themselves. As an educator, I set up opportunities for people to struggle and work through ideas, not to my benefit, but for their’s. Learning is always a choice. Mandatory learning is a failure to engage learners, as well as a failure of students to engage in learning.

The goal of the Forbes article is not only to offer alternative assessments, but also to ensure credentialing remains securely in the hands of a school or university:

The university’s aim is to assure students, accreditation bodies and future employers that the grades awarded are a true reflection of students' knowledge and abilities.

A part of me says, “So what?” The graduate will know the work or not. If not, they will eventually fail in their work. Then they will come to the horrified conclusion they wasted their time at university…and learn in earnest or do something else. Policing learning is such a futile effort.

Replacing the Essay

Tim Mousel, a kinesiology professor at Lone Star College in Texas, suggests a range of alternatives to traditional essays:

“Some of the following approaches could replace a written essay: project-based assessments, problem-solving scenarios, oral presentations or debates, collaborative group projects, reflective journals or portfolios, experiential learning assignments, peer teaching or tutoring, creation of original content, interactive simulations or role-playing, and open-ended research projects.”

Use Process Writing for Learning, Not Assessment of Learning

“We don’t have students write to show us what they’ve already learned, but we have them write so that they can learn through a scaffolded process with meaningful feedback." (Trey Conatser, director of CELT at the University of Kentucky)

This view underscores the importance of the learning process itself, not just the end product.

Portfolios as Continuous Assessment

“Assessment needs to be reframed as collecting evidence of student learning—a continuous process and measured against a set of qualitative criteria.” (Dr. Jennifer Chang Wathall, a part-time instructor at the University of Hong Kong)