Evaluating the process and/or the learner
What do we want to evaluate? The learning of the students, or our own pedagogical process?
If you want to assess the learner's competencies, the evaluation should be an authentic place for the learner to participate, deepen their understanding and become aware of the evolution of their skills in animal welfare. In other words, we advocate for formative evaluation. We consider that each learner is part of a process of skills development that is specific to him or her, in the light of previous experience, values... However, it is also possible to add a certification assessment in accordance with your own requirements or those of the professional curriculum.
The evaluation covers knowledge about the animal needs, the values at stake and the ability to adapt professional practices and posture according to the animal’s and the farmer’s needs, wishes, constraints.
If you want to assess your pedagogical process itself, the learners can also be called upon to give you feedback about what’s happened to them, but how?
For the educator: evaluate learner competencies development during an Anicare process or to evaluate your pedagogical process itself.
For the learner: be conscious about their learning.
How can one evaluate the learner competencies? The Anicare approach has the aim of developing a critical, attentive and creative thinking (Lipman, 2008). How can one observe this?
Critical thinking assumes that the person is on a quest for truth. They are able to problematize, conceptualize and argue (Tozzi, 2007). His or her argumentation is based on objective knowledge, criteria that take into account their greater or lesser reliability, and when these are controversial, he or she is capable of questioning them. Is certain knowledge contextualized with regards to the natural, social, professional environment of the breeder and the animal, the breeding system? Does the student consider the need for research and experimentation to validate his proposals? Does the student's reasoning lead to a judgement? Does he/she propose several solutions? Is he/she capable of self-criticism and self-correction, which implies being reflexive about their thinking?
Creative thinking seeks to give meaning, to innovate. It involves breaking conventions, exploring new ideas, daring unusual experiences, tolerating ambiguity, and also being surprised about new ideas.
Attentive thinking expresses benevolence for the breeder and for the animal, for colleagues, being concerned about the values at stake, being constructive when the pedagogical approach takes the form of a debate or a collective process. It implies attentive listening, an ability to be silent in order to welcome others, human and non-human.
The evaluation starts from the first course, through the learners' representations of animal welfare, their first conception of a professional situation (a situation-problem) which may be analysed again at the end of the training. However, evaluation does not judge necessarily only the results. It also assesses the learning process involved. Throughout the course, the students can note or explain their main contributions, questions, surprise, ideas, new desires and rejections that the training course may have generated. As such, it is a self- and co-evaluation which is pronounced.
You can also evaluate your pedagogical process itself. You can observe if the learners understand the assignments, if they participate or not (at distance or during the face-to-face situations). You can also ask the learners at the end of the process:
- • How did the learners feel during the process?
- • How did they cope with the assignments, with the group, with the teachers?
- • How did they act during the by-distance process? (when did they work on the exercise, how many times?
- • What did they enjoy mostly? What did they hate mostly? For which reasons?
To evaluate the competencies of the learner, several tools can be implemented. We suggest some of these:
- • A Q-sort at the beginning and end of the exercise: it can be carried out individually.
- • A collective heuristic map of a situation-problem at the beginning and end of the exercise. In such a case you will have more a group-based evaluation.
- • The evolution of the learners’ thinking on the Aniphi platform. Aniphi allows you to follow the evolution of thinking of each learner, or to focus on a given point at several periods.
- • Analysis of the “Anicare” films presenting one or several breeder practices and/or experts.
All the data can be used by yourself or can be proposed to the learners to be compared in a self-evaluation process.
Pitfalls and recommendations
A knowledge assessment can be carried out (e.g. how does a person reason the lying down of a cow?) but it remains limited and does not take into account the whole issue at stake.
Assessing competencies also makes it easier to integrate the issue of animal welfare into the curriculum itself, and not to make it a separate topic outside the curriculum. Indeed, if animal welfare does not appear explicitly in the curriculum, nothing prevents you from starting from the professional skills to be acquired and introducing the issue of animal welfare. The films that we offer as part of Anicare make this possible.
It is important to be clear with the student about the framework of the assessment. If it is based on a single self-assessment, the teacher must remain neutral, not judgmental, explicitly or implicitly.
If teacher assessment is combined with self-assessment, what criteria are taken into account in each assessment method?
How to consider the extreme position? It is important to be clear with yourself. Are you ready to accept any point of view? Or do you consider that some of them are unacceptable (for instance refusing to take the suffering of animals into consideration) as a criteria of evaluation. You have to be clear with the learner about your position but should consider the fact the more constraints there are, the more difficult it will be for the learner to have an authentic expression.
“What has changed in evaluation in agricultural education (in France) are the criteria for observation. In the past, we used to look at the result to assess whether the person was capable of taking animal welfare into account. Now you can arrive at a result without really understanding what you are doing and the conditions under which you are doing it. Today the assessment has changed. The objective is to have the candidate explain how he or she did it, the parameters that he or she took into account to reach these goals, what made you succeed or not succeed.”
Lipman, Matthew (2008) Renforcer le raisonnement et le jugement par la philosophie. In Leleux. C. dir., La philosophie pour enfants. Le modèle de Matthew Lipman en discussion. De Boeck 2ème édition. Bruxelles.
Tozzi, Michel (2007) Apprendre à philosopher par la discussion. Pourquoi ? Comment ?De Boeck et Larcier. Bruxelles.