Assessment theories, principles and practices

From WikiEducator
Jump to: navigation, search



Approaches in using assessment for learning and assessment of learning in a learner-centred environment are explored in this topic. Using scenarios, we will follow Emilia and Brett's intrepid journey as they attempt to unravel the mysteries of assessment. To design effective assessments, the principles and values of assessment must be considered, and methods and tools appropriate for the situation chosen.

"Assessment means collecting and evaluating evidence to establish the level of an individual's performance, whether carried out by external methods (common assessment tasks, examinations and portfolio submissions), internal methods, or a combination of external and internal methods, or any other approved method" (NZQA,n.d.).
Assessment terminology
This varies depending on the type of qualification. For example, in unit standard qualifications (standards-based), assessment tasks are set to measure whether the specific performance criteria for each element in a unit standard are met. Whereas in national qualifications, assessments are designed so that participants can demonstrate that they meet particular learning outcomes for each course in the qualification. This is known as criteria-based assessment. You can browse a variety of unit standards and qualifications on that section of the NZQA website.
Assessment evidence and performance
Evidence can be of the process as well as of the product. For example, when assessing safe practice both the process, performance and product need to be examined. In other words, can a carpentry student use tools safely and can they create a house or components of a house that stays upright? Assessment of performance is only a snapshot at the one time, therefore different forms of assessment are needed to determine different aspects of knowledge and understanding or practical skills.
Assessment for or of learning
Assessment for learning is generally formative so that learning is encouraged. In contrast, assessment of learning is required to ascertain students' achievement and success.


Case Study: Emilia

Emilia really likes the idea of using e-portfolios for assessing her students. From her perspective, an e-portfolio can be an ongoing record of what a student is learning, and would be a useful tool for both her and the student to gauge progress and understanding. If used formatively as well as summatively, she would be able to provide feedback at all stages of learning and assessment.

This form of assessment has been shown to encourage critical thinking and reflective practice; desirable skills for her nursing students to develop.


Case Study: Brett

Practical skills and theoretical knowledge need to be assessed in the courses that Brett oversees. Presently, the bulk of the assessment is summative, although students are given informal formative feedback in the workshops. Brett wants his team to discuss how they might introduce more formative assessment into the curriculum as well as peer and self-assessment opportunities.

Initially, he wants to increase the amount of feedback students are given during the learning phases. At the moment, feedback is mainly at the task level where students are told what is correct or incorrect. He wants lecturers to provide more in-depth feedback that helps students' learning.