Assorted Assessments developed using Wordle
Setting the scene
Assessment can be the lynch pin for learning if it is well designed. It is important to differentiate between assessment for learning and assessment of learning. Which forms of assessment are most likely to encourage and motivate students? When should assessment take place and how often? These are some of the questions we will be considering in the course.
Assessment is defined in a number of ways. It is also sometimes referred to as evaluation, but is this correct? You may like to check out the definitions in the Glossary of Assessment Terms from the American Public University System. This glossary may be helpful as you progress through the course.
Types of assessment
Assessment is a huge and varied area of teaching and learning. Assessment possibilities are only limited by imagination as they can occur in many varied forms.
- A good place to start is by listing all the forms of assessment that you use.
- How similar are they to those in the image?
- Watch this video (8.36 min) - Comprehensive assessment: An Overview.
- Compare your list to the types of assessment mentioned there.
- What is your view about using different forms of assessment?
- Add your response to your chosen method for recording your learning.
Values and principles of assessment
Setting assessments is all very well, but how do you know if they are suitable for purpose and what was intended (e.g., formal or informal, or formative or summative)? It is also important to consider the values of assessment such as validity, reliability, authenticity and transparency etc. of the assessments you use. To understand why these matters are important, you need to refer to the The fundamentals of effective assessment: Twelve principles published by the Centre for the Study of Higher Education at Melbourne University.
Principles of assessment
- What are the important principles of assessment for your context?
- Choose at least two principles, and think why they are important.
- Consider validity, reliability and fairness of assessment by exploring the explanations from Chapter 5 in Improving Science and Mathematics Education: A Toolkit for Professional Developers: Alternative Assessment.
- Also read the article: Suskie, L. (2002). Fair Assessment Practices: Giving Students Equitable Opportunities to Demonstrate Learning. Retrieved from http://www.elcamino.edu/administration/vpsca/docs/assessment/FairAssessmentPractices_Suskie.pdf
Values of assessment
- What are the important values of assessment for you? See if you agree with this list.
- Consider the list of values for best practice in assessment from Race et al. (2005) that assessment should be:
- Fair - opportunities to succeed are equal regardless of the learning experience;
- Reliable - similar results are obtained regardless of the work that is assessed, or the assessor - this relies on clear instructions and accurate marking criteria;
- Valid - tasks assess what needs to be measured;
- Equitable - a variety of assessments offers better opportunities for students' different learning preferences;
- Formative - assists students in the learning process - particularly beneficial if good feedback is provided;
- Timely - opportunities for feedback during learning as well as the timing of tasks and summative assessments;
- Incremental - tasks occur in stages so feedback can be given, and achievement relies on more than one assessment;
- Redeemable - allows students another opportunity to succeed;
- Demanding - challenging enough to reward commitment and effective learning;
- Efficient and manageable - tasks are sustainable to produce and to undertake, in terms of resources and workloads.
From: Race, P., Brown, S. & Smith, B. (2005). 500 tips on assessment. London: Routledge Falmer.
- Both hardcopy and ebook available at the Robertson library.
Why do we assess?
Given that many tools and methods that can be used for assessment, it is useful to think about the reasons for assessing.
- What is the purpose of using assessment - formal, informal, formative, summative etc.?
- Jot down your responses.
- Compare your responses to some of those provided by Phil Race, Sally Brown and Brenda Smith (2005) who assess for a variety of reasons including:
- Guiding students' improvement and help them learn from their mistakes - feedback and formative assessment is important for this;
- Helping students decide which options to choose - includes entry into courses and programmes, giving students an indication of suitable paths of study;
- Allowing students to check out how well they are developing as learners - indicates the success of their learning skills;
- Giving feedback on teaching - high quality facilitation of learning tends to lead to achievement and success;
- Adding variety to students' learning experiences - learning is more interesting if different assessment methods are used;
- Helping structure teaching and align learning outcomes to assessments - guides the focus of students' learning as well as teaching;
- Setting standards - the assessment tasks and the quality of students' work are linked to the quality of a course of study;
- Classifying or grading students - summative assessments are used to do this. However, formative assessment can help development of students as learners.
From: Brown, S., Race, P., & Smith, B.(2005). 500 tips on assessment. London: Routledge Falmer. (pages 5-7.)
Formative and summative Assessment
Assessment can be formal and informal, but what does this actually mean? Generally, formal assessment attracts a mark or a grade contributing to a final recorded result, and informal assessment is used to provide feedback to support students' learning.
- Define formative and summative assessment.
- How do these definitions align with the concepts of informal and formal learning?
- Check out the fundamentals of effective assessment which provide insight into 12 valuable principles of assessment; from the Centre for the Study of Higher Education at Melbourne University.
- The first principle is: Assessment should help students to learn. They identify that formative assessment is crucial to effective learning.
- Consider how formative and summative assessment are used in your teaching context.
- Compare how you assess with these two fictional scenarios.
- What aspects adhere to the principles and values of assessment, and what do not.
Policy may support assessment procedures, particularly where formal assessment is undertaken and results are recorded.
Reflect about Assessment Policy
- What sort of policies and procedures does your organisation use for assessment practices?
- How does policy influence your assessment practices?
Key features of any assessment processes include:
- Careful design of assessment methods and tools;
- Appropriate delivery of assessments;
- Clear and constructive feedback; and
- Fair marking.
These aspects of the process will be be explored in relation to a variety of assessment methods and tools throughout this course.
Assessment - Task 1
- Post your response to Task 1 on the Moodle discussion forum - What is the approach? Full instructions are on the course outline.