For those of us who subscribe to Bloom’s taxonomy, one of the ultimate expressions of a student’s learning is synthesis, the creation of their own work based on the learned concept. This is actually the basis for authentic assessment, and a great argument against testing. When the student can take what they’ve learned and apply it to a personal project, that is the true measure of how well the student has learned the concept.
We’re so bogged down in this concept that the only way to prove students are learning is in easily quantifiable tests that may or may not have any actual bearing on demonstrating whether or not a student really knows the material.
Really, what we’re seeing from students outside of school reflects this. They approach new applications, new technologies, and within minutes have often figured out the basics well enough to exert their personality over it. These persistent users of Web 2.0 take what they read and turn it into their web presence, expressing themselves visually and verbally. The evidence of their learning is on display to the world. We’d do well to consider this when setting up learning and assessing tasks for them.
The most sincere way to determine whether or not a student has mastered a concept is to give them the opportunity to apply that knowledge through the creation of a project.