April 19, 2016

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. —Plato

by Carolyn Hollowell

One of the benefits of my job is that I have the opportunity to learn what’s new in education worldwide. How are educators addressing the challenges of teaching the skills students need in the 21st century? Our economy’s current needs center on building individuals who can think systemically, creatively, and critically, and prepare students for these competencies is going to take a fresh way of thinking about how they acquire this knowledge and skills. It is also going to take a new way of assessing students’ knowledge.


“Stealth assessment,” a term originally coined by Valerie Shute and Matthew Venture based on their research into using games to assess skills, is gaining popularity as a method of unobtrusively monitoring students’ knowledge, skills and attributes. The underlying theories behind this approach are:

  • Learning by doing (required in gameplay) improves learning processes and outcomes.
  • Different types of learning and learners’ attributes may by verified as well as measured during gameplay.
  • Authentic evaluation of learners’ strengths and weaknesses can be capitalized on and bolstered.
  • Real-time feedback supports the students’ learning.


The interpretation and implementation of this method of evaluation have been the focus of many of our education industry collaborators over the past year. Dr. Greg Firn notes that stealth assessment presents a powerful step in minimizing and eventually closing the teaching and learning immediacy loop. Instruction and assessment cannot be separated or thought to be two independent activities in the learning process. According to Dr. Firn, the “true promise and application of technology is in its ability to provide feedback in the form of information and insight during the learning process—not just at the end of a learning activity. The Flexcat System from Lightspeed Technologies is one of the technologies he has recommended as “a giant step towards personalized teaching and learning” and making stealth assessment a reality.


Andrea Friend from Andover Middle School in Kansas says, “Stealth assessment has helped me learn things about my students that I would never see on a test.” She notes that her favorite part of using the Flexcat System is being able to work with one group while listening to another group across the room discuss a topic. This “experience really gives me a true, uncorrupted view of what my students are thinking and discussing. Students naturally want to share; they just might not want to share with the whole class. I can discover what my students know and don’t know just by listening in.”

If you want to learn more about how Dr. Firn and Andrea have implemented stealth assessment, join us on April 28, 2016, at 1:00 p.m. PDT/4:00 p.m. EDT for a complimentary Lightspeed Learning Academy webinar, “Re-Imagining Teaching and Learning with Stealth Assessment.

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