This week, we were invited to engage with texts on the themes of literacies and assessment. Although these topics can feel overwhelming and broad, Rowsell and Walsh as well as Dochy and McDowell rethink these topics for our 21st-century world and surround their research with technology and student autonomy in mind. Both texts inspire the reader to keep the student’s best interests in mind and face the realities of students in schools today.
To begin Rowsell and Walsh’s article, Rethinking Literacy Education in New Times: Multimodality, Multiliteracies and New Literacies the authors’ opening argument surrounds literacy plurality. In order to signify the multiple models of literacy that students must attain in order to find success in our digital age, the authors suggest a shift in thinking towards acknowledging digital and text-based literacies that are required of the 21st-century student. These literacies are especially important when discussing students’ interaction with text on a screen. According to Cope, Kalantzis, and Kress, “An acknowledgment of the screen as our dominant text structure” is essential when understanding literacies today. Although one may not often think of texting or messaging as a highly developed skill, the authors made clear that in order to engage with online data one must be able to navigate the multimodel world of images, text, video, and emojis. On-screen literacy has many distinct processing aspects, some of which need to be taught, such as deciphering between relevant information on websites. To ignore these new literacies and assume students will just “figure it out” puts our learners at a disadvantage when it comes to learning about literacy that will impact their daily life.
In contrast, Dochy and McDowell’s Assessment as a Tool for Learning and despite this article’s age, the transformative thought on assessment that was taking place in 1997 is evident. The author’s argument on assessment as being more than a tool to measure student’s achievements is similar to the work done within the ECS 410 course. This new idea of assessment is based on the more possible task of teachers collaborating rather than understanding every aspect of their field and helping students navigate a similar workplace or post-secondary institution. The authors highlight this in their argument of shifting from testing culture to an assessment culture in order to authentically allow students to learn rather than teach to the test.