Assessment is the process of collecting, interpreting, and synthesising information in order to make decisions about students; provide learners feedback about their progress and their strengths and weaknesses; judge instructional effectiveness and inform educational policy (American Federation of Teachers, et al. , 1990 as cited in Gage and Berliner, 1998). On the other hand, motivation is simply what moves learners from boredom to interest so that they continue learning. It arouses and directs learner’s activities towards learning over time.
Assessments can motivate learners if teachers and students roles are effectively performed. For instance, the role of a teacher can be designing tasks in a way that learners can complete with reasonable amount of effort. Difficult tests should be divided into subgroups that are achievable without excessive effort. The role of the teacher even includes ability to inform learners in advance about the nature of the assessments. In this way, assessments are able to motivate student’s effort to learn.
Furthermore, Nicholls (1999) as cited in Stepleton (2001) states assessments will motivate learners if they are not seen as a form of torture to the students. The teacher should ensure that students understand that assessments are only meant to assist learners towards achievement of effective learning and attainment of educational goals. If students understand this, they will value assessments and form a positive attitude towards assessments there by getting motivated to learn.
Assessments, if used judicially as in grading t tests and scoring of marks, can motivate learners to learn (Gage and Berliner, 1998). Similarly, it is pointed out that given that learners are labelled on the basis of assessments and that these labels create expectations about learner’s ability, characteristics and educational competence. Teachers have to be careful in labelling students. Stepleton (2001) states that according to self-fulfilment prophecy theory, students learn to behave in line with the label or characteristic that has been applied to them.
Hence, if assessments are to motivate students, teachers must avoid labelling learners as poor, dull, incompetent or failures on the basis of quantitative results of assessments in the class. If a student feels the teacher knows him or her as an underperformer, the learner may cling to that mentality. On the other hand, good labels such as excellent, good and wonderful should be encouraged and used appropriately to increase motivation on the students learning efforts.