The purpose of assessment
Assessment is the process of collecting and evaluating achievement. It should always test the learner, but be clearly understood by the learner too. (Tummons 2007,p.5) states that Assessment ensures that we can motivate and encourage learners as well as diagnosing their learning needs. Also it allows us to evaluate learning progress as well as allowing the process of selection to take place. “The primary purpose of assessment is it improve students’ learning and teachers’ teaching… What makes assessment for learning effective is how well the information is used.” (Ministry of Education 2014) Another quote that I found summed up the purpose of assessment perfectly was; “…assessment has three purposes. Firstly, assessment is designed to support and thus enhance learning. Secondly, it provides certification for progress or transfer, and thirdly it is a form of accountability (quality assurance) to stakeholders.” (Chris Rust 2005) this suggest that the purpose of assessment is to simply support and enhance the learners learning by clearly highlighting to the learners their progression with the subject/course so far and what they need to do next for them to be able to fully understand the subject and pass successfully.
There are 5 main assessment methods; informal, formal, formative, summative and ipsative. Formative assessment “…provides feedback which leads to students recognising the learning gap and closing it” (Harlen 1998) Formative assessment is repeated regularly and is carried out at the same time of the lesson being taught, this is because it is used to check the progress of the learners and the most reliable and natural environment and situation to assess this would be in the classroom. Also by carrying the assessment out while the lesson is being taught, it allows so the teacher can be assessed too, to ensure their teaching strategies are correct for the students. Summative assessment is always carried out towards the end of a course or lesson as it is used to ensure the learner has achieved the skills and knowledge that was set at the beginning of the course or lesson.
Also summative assessment “…involves only marking and feedback grades to a student” (Black and William 1999). Formal assessment is an assessment that you won’t have any control over as it will be determined by an awarding body for the course or subject. It will be an exam or essay that the students will have to complete under test conditions (no communication, seated apart, silence, etc). Informal assessment is when you observe the students as they learn and take notes and record their progress. You then evaluate each student with the data you have gathered. “Informal assessments are not data driven but rather content and performance driven.” (Brenda Weaver 2014) Ipsative assessment measures how well a current task has been completed against how well they did on their best work, most recent work or their average work. It is based on measuring how much progression the student has made since their previous performance. With ipsative assessment, the student’s progress or work won’t be compared to other students work, and their performance won’t be related to any external criteria either.
An important part of assessment is making sure it is valid and reliable. This will then ensure that the assessment is measuring what it is set out to, and also that it is consistently measuring correctly. (Gravells, 2010) For an assessor to correctly and fairly assess someone, they evaluate the learner’s evidence against the national standards to ensure it is; V alid – Method of assessment is suitable for testing the skill needed. A uthentic – Checked on the system to ensure it is the learners own work and isn’t just copy and pasted or a copy of another learner’s work. S ufficient – Shows that the learner is capable of a number of skills (all skills needed to pass). C urrent – That the piece of work is up to date and contains proof that the learner’s skills are still present. R eliable – Best method used to assess work?
Describe and evaluate 2 different formative assessment method activities used to check the learning of either individuals or a group of learners: One formative assessment method is observation, observation is mostly successful when assessing a group of learners. When an observation assessment is needed to be carried out it should always be planned with the learner being assessed and any other parties that may be involved or need to be present too. Also the assessor should always observe from a reasonable distance, as if the assessor is too close to the learner then this can make them very nervous. This would there for lead to the assessment evidence being unreliable as they wouldn’t have performed as well as when they do it in their own time. But if the assessor is observing the learner from a great distance that is too far, then they wouldn’t be able to appropriately assess the learner and won’t be able to confirm that their work/evidence is sufficient, due to not being able to see everything they had carried out.
Another rule when the assessment method of observation is being carried out, is that the assessor is not allowed to interfere in any way. So if the learner is being assessed on their IT skills and isn’t able to complete one part of the assessment, then the assessor would have to fail them, as it would be unethical if the assessor completed that part for them and then passed the learner regardless.
One activity that is popular is; placing the learners into groups and observing their interactions with each other and their responses to questions asked to the group. A good activity to use to make sure that all the students have a clear understanding of the subject would be group debate. This would mean that the learners would have a debate about what they think is factual and what they believe is untrue about a certain subject that has been taught. Although one criticism of group observation is that people who don’t participate often or not at all could be passed for the assessment when in theory everyone else in the group has done all the work for them. To ensure this doesn’t happen, the observer should ensure that everyone participates in the debate/discussion. They could do this by giving each learner within the group a question that they have to answer or a statement they have to expand on. This would then ensure that each learner has actually earned their pass and not just gained it because one learner in their group was really good at the subject.
Observation of groups can be easily adapted to suit any learner’s needs. As if a learner is less advanced than others in their class they can be given an easier question to answer within the group or given more aids to help aid their learning of the subject. If a learner troubles to hear or listen for long periods of time then instead of speaking everything the groups could be asked to write their answers down or create a poster which would keep them more engaged within the assessment, but also making sure all learners participate. Reflection is another formative assessment method, but this is a lot more effective than observation as it assesses each learner individually.
Reflection activities can either be peer – assessment or self – assessment. In my opinion peer assessments are the most effective as according to (Alyssa Sellors, Demand Media, 2014) they not only assess the learners evaluating their peer’s understanding but they also assess their performance in evaluating their own understanding against their peers. This can help them to see if they have forgotten something important within the lesson/subject, but it can also help them to work their hardest as with them knowing that their peers are assessing them it may encourage them to ensure they get everything correct. Also “Sometimes, learners consider more what their peers are saying than the tutor” (Gravells, 2008). A good activity to use for this assessment method would be to teach the subject then carry out a creativity activity or question for each learner to complete individually. Then have each learner either swap their questionnaire answers around so each leaners answers are being marked by another learner, or hand out peer assessment sheets for each learner to complete on another learners piece of work. This assessment method activity would have to be ensured that it is carried out at an appropriate time.
As if the assessment activity was carried out months after the subject was taught then it wouldn’t be a reliable assessment as some learners may have forgot most of what they had been taught due to concentrating on other subjects. But also if the assessment activity was carried out before the subject was taught then it would be pointless unless it was carried out again after the subject had been taught to show the learner’s progress. Self – assessment, is more based on helping the learner to become an independent learner. This gets the learner to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses within the lesson/subject, they can do this effectively by using a number of activities such as; portfolios, goal setting, etc. self-assessment is also important as it enables learners to develop their own ways of reviewing their own work which would lead to them continuously developing within the subject/course.
Self-assessment wouldn’t have to be adapted a lot to suit certain learners needs as it is individual activities that can be completed in the way the learner chooses to complete them (as long as they clearly show all the guidelines to pass have been met). If a learner struggled to work independently due to having learning difficulties then they could receive extra support with being given a clearer understanding of how to complete the activities (portfolios, goal setting, etc). Or they could just simply be given different goals to be met to enable them to pass that are more realistic for them to complete, but contain the same information and evidence as the other learners.
Prepare a short written reflection on your experience, making reference to feedback: The assessment method I demonstrated was peer assessment. I created my own peer assessing sheet for the learners to fill out on one of their peers. Which within my feedback was stated very creative and useful. The lesson I taught was about mirror symmetry and once I was sure the learners understood the meaning of mirror symmetry, I got them to create their own symmetrical pictures. Once they had completed their pictures each learner had to assess another learner’s picture by filling out the peer assessing sheets provided. Then each learner received their assessment sheets that gave feedback on their own work so they could know what they did well and what they needed to improve. Before the class was left to complete their symmetrical pictures, I showed them examples of what would be an acceptable picture and get them a pass, and also an example of what wouldn’t be acceptable and would gain them a fail.
In the feedback I received from my peers, they all stated that the writing on my slide show that I used to teach them about symmetry was actually too small and made it difficult for them to read. This could be easily changed but I should have been more prepared and fully checked my resources beforehand ensuring that everything was correct, clear and readable. This didn’t affect the lesson too much as everything that was on the slide show was involved in what I was saying to the class, but it could have meant that for the people who wanted to take notes from the slide show, where unable to do so due to not being able to see the writing. Also stated in my feedback was that I spoke a little too fast at the beginning of my lesson, this was obviously due to nerves but because of this and the writing being too small on the slide show some people may not have understood the beginning of the lesson and not actually put their hands up to ask as they may have been too nervous to do so.
Within my feedback forms one statement that was repeated by everyone within the ‘actions required to improve same session in the future’ section’ was to involve a pre-assessment at the beginning of my lesson. This would improve my assessment within the lesson as it would highlight to me the areas of the subject that the learners are strongest on and the areas of the subject that they are weak on. This would enable me to concentrate mostly on the areas that they are weak on and only touch slightly on their strong areas, ensuring that they have a strong understanding of the full subject. Before presenting my lesson, I checked my IT equipment was working correctly and that I was sure I had all the resources needed to carry out my lesson and assessment during the lesson. I also ensured that I solved any problems that needed solving, such as the memory stick and printers not working before my lesson was due to start.
Also, although I kept a close eye on the learners when using the scissors to ensure no one was harmed, I should have clearly stated to the learners to not mess around with the scissors in any way while handling them. As this would have then enhanced the health and safety of using them as the learners would have been made very aware. Another health and safety issue I didn’t enforce, was the use of the paints. Before letting the learners use the paints I should have made sure none of the learners had any allergies to any substances within the paints, as some learners where painting their hands and fingers to create their symmetrical picture. The positive feedback that was highlighted the most within my feedback was that it was clear that all the learners fully enjoyed my lesson and that everyone was involved and capable of taking part, no matter what their ability levels where. It is very important that you ensure that all learning abilities can complete the lesson just as easily as everyone else even if it means adapting the teaching methods or assessment methods in ways to make it easier for less abled learners.
It is also important that learners enjoy their lesson as, as stated by (Judy Willis, 2007) learners are more likely to remember what they have been taught within a lesson if they have fun and enjoy the lesson/subject. “The truth is that when we scrub joy and comfort from the classroom, we distance our students from effective information processing and long-term memory storage. Instead of taking pleasure from learning, students become bored, anxious, and anything but engaged. They ultimately learn to feel bad about school and lose the joy they once felt.” (Judy Willis, 2007).
Gravells, A (2008) Preparing to teach in the LLS
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