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Enabling Learning and Assessment Essay

Description, use and evaluation of two different assessment activities. Assessment is the process of checking what the learner has learnt against what has been taught. Assessments are used as a diagnostic tool to establish entry level behaviour / academic ability, to help diagnose any addition learning disabilities and to determine the learners preferred learning styles. Assessments acts to motivate learners, and create additional learning opportunities. It is also Used to provide constructive feedback. Assessments are used to grade learners course work and is used as a quality assurance mechanism both internal (standardisation meeting) and external (External Verification by Awarding Body). Assessments ensure that standards are maintained, certificates achievements, helps facilitate progression and predicts future performance / selection.

Wilson (2008:114) states that ‘You may use assessment to identify specific needs of learners and assessments should be an integral component of your teaching and lesson plan.’ Norm referencing or normative – this is one a learner is assessed against each other –the learners’ abilities is measured/ compared against the learners. This method is very common in educational establishments. Criterion referencing –learner has achieved a particular standard – the learner can either to the tasks, answer the question or use occupationally competent. This method is used in NVQ/ QCF . This tends to be a pass or fail approach. This style of assessment measures what the learner can do and will be given the appropriate support and guidance to achieve. Ipsative assessment –this method of assessment relies on the individual learner self assessing –whether their knowledge performance or ability meets the standards set. This will be used at the end of the programme.

The learner will summarise his learning at the end of programme Formative assessment – this is also known as continuous assessment. It will allow the learner to determine their progress and improve where necessary. This can act as a motivational tool to the learner. Kolb learning styles advocates formative assessment as this will aid personal development and progression after the course of study. Summative assessment – this tends to take the form of tests for exams at the end of study. This tends to be a more formal way of assessing. The learner is tested on their skills and knowledge that once the learning has been completed. This form of assessment tends to put enormous pressure on the learner and success is dependent on the final outcome of the test. Many learners find this quite anxious leading to learner apprehension. Observing a learner in their place of work would enable me to determine their level of occupational competence.

As a health and social care assessor/ tutor, this form of assessment works best, any areas of discrepancy would be addressed when providing the learner with feedback. Observation assessment gives the learner the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. Wilson. (2008:114) states that ‘this is considered one of the best forms of assessment because there can be no doubts in the mind of the assessor that the learner knows how to do something.’ The learners tend to generally enjoy assignments due to the variety of each assignment. A marking guide for each assessment can be easily established for other tutors to mark and support learners. One has to be aware that Projects are learner driven and Assignments are tutor led. As a tutor, marking written questions requires a very detailed marking assessment (Reliability) plan to ensure transparency and fairness. Deciding what proportion of their work deserves what marks and areas relating to punctuation a, grammar and spelling needs to be address and shared with learners at the start of each written essay.

In addition to the above, Oral questions allows me to directly assess the learners understanding of the subject matter (Authenticity). I have used this method when conducting Observations and when providing feed back to learners after they have completed their multiple Choice/ short answers. Some learners find it difficult to understand what is required from them when posed as a written question. By verbally repeating the question or re-phrasing the questions will give the learner the opportunity to add to their original answer (Differentiation). One has to be aware not to used leading or closed questions. As a tutor I need to be aware not to lead the learner and authenticity of the learner work can be questioned. With the learner permission, digital Dictaphones are often used which can be used to check authenticity (learners’ words and voice can be heard and validated). Learners tend to benefit from formative assessment activities throughout the duration of their course as it would provide opportunities to build on their strengths and provide additional opportunities to learn from their mistakes.

A good assessment model should consist of the following clearly defined stages: Decide the intended learning Outcomes: Devise the assessment task(s): Devise the learning activities. Reliability is an important element of all assessment models as it should ensure that assessors/ tutors acting independently using the same criteria and marking scheme would come to exactly the same judgement about a given piece of work. Explicit learning outcomes tend lead to achieving reliability as all assessors / tutors and learners follow the same learning outcomes. Reliability should: Ensure that same work should be awarded the same score .Secondly, Examiners / assessors award the same score to the same script if they score it again on a subsequent occasion. Finally, ensure that student get the same score in the test when it is administered at different times.

Reliability can be increased by introducing a marking scheme for assessors especially for those assessments which have traditionally low reliabilities i.e. essays. It will not ensure that the essay will be marked in exactly the same way but will ensure the basis of the marking will be the same i.e. looking for the same things in each essay leading to increased reliability. Validity – Does the assessed task actually assess what you want to it to? There are different types of Validity .Content validity: Ensuring that the aims of the curriculum are in keeping with what the learner needs to know. One has to make sure that the learning objectives are remains closely linked to the learners desired learning outcomes otherwise the quality of the whole course could be brought into question.

Secondly, Construct validity: ensuring that the assessment is closely linked to the desired learning outcomes of the course. Finally, Predictive validity: Ensuring that the performance of a student on assessments is closely related to their future performance on the predictive measure. Francis & Gould (2009:87) stated ‘The way in which the required information is delivered can also make a significant difference to the way in which it is received’

Reflect on feedback in assessment to inform learners’ progress and achievement Feedback is a process involving the tutor and learner. It is an opportunity for both parties to give constructive advice on their strengths and addressing weaknesses, as well as offering guidance and support, in order for future development to occur. Having a good rapport with your learner, helps in the feedback process. Francis & Gould (2009:87) stated ‘The most obvious of these is to have a good knowledge of the learners-their previous knowledge and experience, their current levels of understanding, their aptitude for the subject’. The ‘Feedback Sandwich’ is a popular method of giving feedback whereby the tutor opens with a positive statement (reassures and relaxes learner) followed by a developmental statement (contribution from learner is sort during this stage) including area of concern, ending with a motivational closing statement (learner to identify their own areas of development).

Francis & Gould (2009:105) stated ‘Good feedback acknowledges what the learner is doing correctly and identifies clearly and concisely what can be done to further improve performance’. This can be used as part of the learner assessment process. This can be either an informal or formal format. I tend to give weekly informal feedback after an assignment has been submitted followed by a formal 12 week Progress review. One must be aware of ‘telling ‘or ‘asking’ approaches during feedback. ‘Telling ‘has the advantage in providing a quick / direct response and giving confidence to inexperienced learners in the short term. In the long term the learners confidence may be eroded leading to over dependency on the tutor. ‘Asking ‘approaches invites the learners to self evaluate their progress and arrive at their own conclusions leading to a more independent learner (used at 12 week reviews ) .

Insecure and timid learners may find this approach to feedback intimidating especially if they have difficulty evaluating and analysing their work. I have used the Telling approach to a new learner who required a quick and direct first feedback review in order to focus them on the task at hand. Francis & Gould (2009:107) stated ‘…A general rule we should try an ‘wean ‘learners away from reliance on the teacher and help them become more independent in their learning and performance of the skill’ Feedback could be either verbal or written. Feedback requires good communication skills and a diplomatic nature and approach. It will also test your listening, objectivity and explaining skills.

Good feedback should: Delivered promptly after an assessment, Be a two way process between learner and tutor, Motivational in nature, where by the learners self esteem and confidence is not adversely affected, Specific and to the point- as a tutor, one has to be aware not to digress and remain objective , Choice and solutions can be explored during feedback, focus on things that can be changed i.e. behaviour and finally Positive and Constructive whereby the learner feels that the required changes can be achieved. Francis & Gould (2009:105) stated ‘Feedback, whatever the purpose, should be constructive.’ During a recent observation assessment with one of my learners, I provided verbal feedback on what I had observed, in which my positive but constructive feedback was generally well received. I focussed on the positive elements of the observation, highlighting the assessment criteria that I thought were met, followed by area that I thought could be improved on.

The learner commented that she had not realised that she had covered so many assessment criteria’s and had had conducted herself in such a positive and professional manner. As A result of receiving such positive feedback which highlighted areas of her strengths and weaknesses, she has improved the quality and frequency of her written assignments. How feedback from others informs owns professional practice. I have recently received feedback from my line manager (Internal verifier), conducting a learner 12 week review on their progress to date. On the whole, my line manager thought I had conducted a good learner review, providing constructive but encouraging feedback on assignments submitted, workshops participation and attendance.

My overall preparation (copies of comments on previous feedback/ assignments) for the review was deemed satisfactory and I had covered all the areas of the Diploma (ERR, Technical certificate, Functional skills), highlighted areas of achievement and what remains outstanding. My line manager stated that I should record more of the Information , Advice and Guidance (IAG) that I verbally gave to my learners (i.e. referencing the need for the learner to read specific company policies and procedures, visit certain websites and recommended reading materials ISBN). In addition to the above, my line manager requested that the learner wrote a comment in the learner section of the review as well as having the learners’ manager comment on the review also.

I have now incorporated these recommendations into my most recent reviews ensuring that learners ‘own their feedback’. Seeking the comments and signatures of the learners’ manager is a little more problematic often having to arrange a separate visit solely for this purpose. In summary, effective assessment should ensure Consistent outcomes , Accessible to learners whereby learners can access assessments and follow systems of equality and inclusion, Detailed assessments covering all areas of the curriculum, Earned by learner and they have achieved award and Transparent , clear and meaningful to all parties. (CADET). The assessment process informs me of the progress of the learner, whether my teaching is effective to all learners and finally whether my assessments are effective in relation to validity, authenticity and reliability. Following the above CADET model, I feel that my current assessment and feedback methodology meet the required standard.

References:

Boud, D (1995) Enhancing Learning Through self assessments, London. Kogan Page. Honey, P and A. Mumford (1982/1992) The Manual of learning styles, Maidenhead: Peter Honey Publications. Wilson, L (2008), Practical Teaching: A Guide to PTLLS & CTLLS. London. Cengage Learning. EMEA. Francis. M & Gould. J (2009) Achieving your PTLLS Award: a practical guide to successful Teaching in the lifelong sector. London. Sage Publication Hillier, Y. (2005) Reflective teaching in further and adult education .London. Continuum. Wilson. L (2008) Practical Teaching: A Guide to PTLLS and CTLLS. London. Cengage. EMEA.


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