HOLISTIC* vs. ATOMISTIC* ASSESSMENT

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HOLISTIC* vs. ATOMISTIC* ASSESSMENT

group-work-454882_960_720Holistic, similar to the word whole, means to develop comprehensive and coherent mental representations of learning. Rather than simply completing a selected-choice test, it means recognizing the schema of learning.

Holistic assessments are multidimensional in that they include varied facets of learning from recall of vocabulary to production of new ideas. Holistic assessments unify multiple learning outcomes into an integrated picture of student learning. What good does it do to know that the patient is bleeding without understanding anatomical pressure points? Why do we ask students to sequence the battles of war but not ask what would happen if the battles and their outcomes were altered?

To make assessment more holistic, consider ways you can turn traditional tests into multifaceted assessments: From knowing facts to understanding relationships and from labeling details to questioning evidence. Holistic strategies include well-thought-out projects, structured action research, and production of artifacts, each aligned with grade-level learning intentions. For example, a student may prepare a presentation of types of clouds, compare weather data at different elevations, or analyze research on climate change. When accompanied by self, peer, and teacher assessment, using rubrics along with more traditional measures, a full picture of the outcomes of learning becomes evident.

Benefits include:
Stronger links between learning intentions and learning actions

Clearer insights into student learning
Better guidance on modifications and interventions
Integration of assessment within teaching and learning
increased student ownership and engagement in learning and assessment

*Holistic and Wholistic both mean that the parts of something are interconnected and interdependent. They may be used interchangeably with medicine typically referring to treatment of the whole person and philosophy referring to a composite holistic belief system. One source adds to the confusion by saying that although the words have distinct meanings, they have similar definitions. Go Figure

**Atomic Assessment deconstructs standards into separate and distinct elements, then measures each of the elements. For example, in a unit on atoms student may show knowledge and understanding by defining electrons and explaining Dalton’s atomic theory, but go to deeper such as considering the pros and cons of harnessing nuclear energy.


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