WikiEdProfessional eLearning Guidebook/Assessment, feedback, and e-moderation/Assessing Learning Outcomes/Methods of assessment

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Methods of assessment

Measures of learning achievement can be classified as either criterion or norm-referenced (Grondlund, 1985). A criterion-referenced measure is targeted at the criteria specified in the learning outcome. Criterion-referenced measures require learners to demonstrate presence of learned capabilities in relation to specified criteria. A norm-referenced measure compares a learner’s performance against that of other learners in the cohort. This form of assessment rates student performance against the normal distribution of abilities in the population (a few excellent students, some good students, and the majority are average students).

In any learning context, a range of assessment methods may be used to determine learning achievement. These may include:

  • Actual performance on an authentic site or a simulated condition such as a model.
  • Oral responses which comprise verbal and/or visual presentations to questions.
  • Written responses which comprise typed or hand-written responses to questions.

However, as learning becomes more collaborative, situated and distributed in its context, conventional methods of assessment of learning outcomes become inadequate. These have to be replaced with tasks and assessment procedures that can be focused on the processes of learning, perception, and problem solving. Methods that can capture some of these processes are learning logs, critical reflections and portfolios. In situated learning contexts, assessment can no longer be viewed as an add-on to the learning and teaching process, or seen as a separate stage in a linear process of instruction and post-test. Assessment must become a continuous part of the learning process where it serves to promote and support learning.

Assessment that is designed to promote and support learning during the course of the learning and teaching process, may be seen as serving a formative purpose in that it allows skills development to be identified, reflected upon and corrected in a continuous manner. Assessment that seeks to ascertain a final measure of learning capability often at the end of a course, serves as a summative measure. A one-off sampling of students’ work is not adequate to make a reliable judgment of the overall quality of their work. We need to examine student’s work regularly and continuously without drowning either the students or staff in meaningless tasks.

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  • A big challenge for teachers is how to make assessment as authentic and realistic as possible, and as such more meaningful and motivating for the learners.
  • How can assessment be made more authentic and meaningful for the learners? Is this always possible? If not, then why not?
  • How can information and communications technology be used strategically to assess learning achievement?

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Tell us a story

*Can you relate an example or experience, which reflected an attempt to develop and utilize authentic approaches to assessment, with or without the use of information and communications technology?