In his work on class design, L. Dee Fink suggests that as much as possible we try to use forward looking rather than backward looking assessments. By this he means that our assessments shouldn't all be exams or papers that demonstrate what the students learned. Rather, he would have us come up with questions or projects which require the students to imagine a situation that they might realistically face in the future (which is germane to their study) and figure out what to do about it. Fink seems to be suggesting that this kind of project shows students the relevancy of the study, engages them more, and requires a higher order kind of work (application) rather than just memorization or intellectual understanding. It sounds like a pretty good idea. My problem is that I am having some difficulty thinking of many of these types of problems or how I might present them in my classes. Perhaps it is a lack of applied anthro training on my part. I would appreciate any help with this. Could you please give me some examples of forward-looking assessments that you use in your anthropology classes?

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Wow! It is a challenge to come up with forward-looking assessments of this nature.

In a way this is what I'm do trying to accomplish when I break class into small group and assign each group a problem that isn't in the text. Group A: tribal council. Group B: family bringing grievance to council. Group C: outside observer/anthropologist. Now to make this really interesting I might include D: Teacher doing assessment of group dynamics and group outcomes in the classroom and ask the students to critique/question/grade me after I assess them.
Here is an assignment from my current seminar, "Comparative Anthropology":

Essay II
Formulate five research mini-proposals using comparative analysis. Maximum length 1500 words (approximately five pages).

Would this count as "forward looking"?



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