10 reasons

10 reasons that I’m convinced Certainty-Based Assessment (CBA) should be a widely used method in learning and teaching…

  1. Closed-answer questions are just too guessable. 
    All teachers recognise the problem with closed questions. This is why we use open questions: we have to ask pupils to ‘explain’ so we can gauge how securely they understand concepts. However, evaluating the answers to open questions is effortful and subjective.
  2. We move on from foundation knowledge too quickly.
    As soon as learners have some grasp of a concept, they are likely to be able to guess the answers to simple questions. As a result, we move on from foundation knowledge prematurely and start to ask questions about more obscure knowledge.
  3. CBA is proven to be more accurate and reliable.
    Ultimately, assessment is an attempt to measure what is known. There is a large body of research showing how CBA has a much stronger predictive power than regular (right/wrong) assessment. This is true whether the subsequent tests use certainty-based marking or conventional mark schemes.
  4. It is fairer.
    Conventional closed-question assessment only differentiates between right and wrong answers, CBA differentiates between secure knowledge, guessing and misconceptions. In doing so, CBA gives credit to those with secure knowledge and does not group those who recognise they are unsure with those holding misconceptions.
  5. CBA provides useful feedback to learners.
    Conventional assessment can leave learners unclear about what they need to do to progress. CBA will reward additional effort that goes into mastery (and provides a wake-up call to those harbouring misconceptions!). 
  6. CBA provides useful insight for teachers.
    It tells you how securely (or not!) your learners know things. This helps you identify which areas need most attention and also helps you to accurately predict how pupils will perform in summative assessments.
  7. Online CBA is automated so that no time is wasted on marking.
    Workload is a very real issue for teachers. New technologies and methods we adopt need to, at the very least, not add to workload. CBA may actually reduce workload by providing a level of insight that was previously only achievable through detailed analysis of responses to open questions.
  8. CBA is efficient, quick and objective.
    CBA is only appropriate to measuring recall of objective fact but it does so incredibly efficiently.
  9. CBA is engaging.
    Learners are most likely to be engaged when tasks are both accessible and challenging. The mark scheme of CBA gives learners control of the stakes so that assessments are challenging to learners at all stages.
  10. CBA is easier to create.
    The raised stakes in CBA mean that even basic questions (e.g. True/False) will effectively differentiate between those who know and those who guess. This significantly reduces the complexity of writing quizzes.

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