8 Part Series on Gamification as Reigeluth’s Post-industrial Paradigm of Instruction: Part 6

Approximate Reading Time: 2 minutes

Criterion Referenced vs Norm Referenced

2004-07-11_12-58-35_001b_wmPoor Norm. He is doomed to be compared against whoever signs up for the same class as him.

Doesn’t matter what he can do, it seems, it only matters how he measures up to what everyone else can do.

Norm-referenced assessment is still the norm (pardon the pun) in many, if not most university classes. We have come to assume that letter grades should be allotted to students based on a statistically normal distribution, but what if everyone in the class manages to meet the stated course objectives?

Criterion referenced assessment (CRA) involves an independently determined set of standards for achievement. So long as the student meets the criterion, they should earn the grade promised.

How does that compare with our usual, norm-referenced assessment (NRA)?

In a typical course when a student earns 65% (which is a pass in most institutions) it is meant to imply that they have mastered approximately 2/3 of the course content, but is this really true? In a course where 60% or more of the final grade comes from exams their grade is in fact only a measure of the percentage of the content of the exams that they have mastered. Of necessity the exams include only a fraction of the course material that was taught.

In a gamified design students are assessed on the work they do over the term, and although final exams are still possible, they should could towards the final ‘score’ in the same way as all other work. If students manage to earn 1000 points throughout the term, then why should they be made to write a final exam? Haven’t they already demonstrated their mastery of the material?

I’ve heard people express concerns over rigor & accountability in criterion referenced assessment but that can be done quite easily by setting appropriate standards for the work that is submitted.

I suspect that many of the concerns come from experience with the kind of assessment that I’ve seen myself in some education programs where it is assumed that everyone who tries at all gets an A. I’ve been in classes like that. It’s really annoying for those who want to EARN their A’s, and yes, it can make it seem like CRA lacks rigor. Done right, it actually has MORE rigor & accountability than NRA.

2012-01-08-14-00-45_wmJust to keep things organized: these are Reigeluth’s 8 core ideas for a new post-industrial paradigm of instruction:

  1. Learning-focused vs. sorting focused.
  2. Learner-centered vs. teacher-centered instruction.
  3. Learning by doing vs. teacher presenting.
  4. Attainment-based vs. time-based progress.
  5. Customized vs. standardized instruction.
  6. Criterion-referenced vs. norm-referenced testing.
  7. Collaborative vs. individual.
  8. Enjoyable vs. unpleasant. [1]

For more on my gamified approach to course design, see here. I am working on a book that should be out in 2016.

  1. C. M. Reigeluth, “Instructional Theory and Technology for the New Paradigm of Education,” Revista de Educación a Distancia, vol. 11, Sept. 30 2012 2012.
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8 Part Series on Gamification as Reigeluth’s Post-industrial Paradigm of Instruction: Part 6 — 8 Comments

  1. Pingback: Gamification 101[6]: Scoring | The Becker Blog

  2. Pingback: 8 Part Series on Gamification as Reigeluth’s Post-industrial Paradigm of Instruction: Part 8 | The Becker Blog

  3. Hi Katrin. Just came upon this post via google, and it seems a really interesting take on evaluating students. This blog got me thinking…

    As a student, I always used to think whether just “mugging-up” for exams was enough to show an proper understanding of the subject. Turned out to be not true at all. And that’s such a shame, when millions of man-hours are wasted around the world every year just to somehow transfer a respectable amount of knowledge from tired teachers to disengaged students… Come to think of it, it seems like a very wasteful use of our energy…

    Perhaps CRA can be a better way of evaluating students, and gamification sure does seem like the perfect way to do that – it works best when there’s a continuous, long-term interaction of users with the system, something which is in common with the CRA system you described here.

    OK, enough talking… I’ll be reading up on more of your views now. 🙂

  4. Pingback: 8 Part Series on Gamification as Reigeluth’s Post-industrial Paradigm of Instruction: Part 5 | The Becker Blog

  5. Pingback: 8 Part Series on Gamification as Reigeluth’s Post-industrial Paradigm of Instruction: Part 4 | The Becker Blog

  6. Pingback: 8 Part Series on Gamification as Reigeluth’s Post-industrial Paradigm of Instruction: Part 7 | The Becker Blog

  7. Pingback: 8 Part Series on Gamification as Reigeluth’s Post-industrial Paradigm of Instruction: Part 2 | The Becker Blog

  8. Pingback: 8 Part Series on Gamification as Reigeluth’s Post-industrial Paradigm of Instruction: Part 1 | The Becker Blog

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