1 Explain how to create assessment opportunities that meet the needs of learners Assessment is a process of measuring the knowledge, skills and attitudes of students. This helps to monitor the learner’s progress in and understanding of a subject. Assessment should be planned. An assessment plan should address the variety of student learning styles and personalities. Many students dislike particular types of assessment, for example, examinations, tests, or essays. In an extreme case, having a rigid single assessment method, may cause students to drop out. We need to provide support to such potential dropouts. To do this we should plan to include a range of assessment methods throughout the course. Accredited courses may require students to pass statutory examinations. In such cases we may need to explore what allowances can be made for students where English is not their first language, dyslexics, and people with limiting physical and/or mental disabilities.
2 Analyse how types of assessment are used in lifelong learning Three types of assessment are used as the course progresses. Initial assessment ideally occurs before the start of the course, so that the student can be assessed for suitability. This type of assessment can include application forms, interviews, and presentations. Where no formal initial assessment has been made prior to the start of the course, the tutor will need assess the students’ prior knowledge, learning styles and particular. This is in order to set the course material at the right level, and to ensure inclusive teaching methods. Formative assessment is used to monitor progress throughout the course, enabling student and tutor to plot progress towards the course and personal objectives. Summative assessment happens at the end of the course, in order to ensure the aims and objectives of the course have been met. This may take the form of an examination. An alternative might be a final group or individual tutorial, in which the tutor ascertains how the course has been received and possible improvements for the future, and the students can get advice on next steps, based on their performance.
3 Analyse how assessment methods are used in lifelong learning There are a large range of assessment methods, including discussion, question and answer, observation, examination, homework assignments, class quizzes, tests, and so on. On non-accredited courses the use of video, sound recording, student demonstrations to the class may be useful alternatives to written submissions. Best practice indicates that the use of a wide variety of assessment methods gives everyone in the group a chance to shine, as each student may have a different learning style and personality. Whereas some students love engaging in class discussion, others find speaking out in class very difficult, and perform better in one-to-one engagement. Observation can be a very useful method, because tutors can listen to, watch and engage with the group and individuals continuously, thus assessing the students in an inconspicuous and non-threatening manner.
4 Evaluate how to involve the learner in the assessment process It is useful to discuss methods of assessment with one’s students to learn what attitudes they may have towards them. At the beginning of the course, the tutor should explain the assessment process and take questions, so that students start to understand what will be expected of them during the course. This should be repeated whenever a new assignment or class task is set. It is important that the tutor listens to student feedback on the assessment process. The tutor should provide opportunities for peer-assessment. This involves the learner in the assessment process by focussing attention on the assessment criteria and eliciting opportunities for improvement from within the group. The tutor should provide opportunities for self-assessment, to encourage students to become fully involved in their learning process. By providing these elements, the tutor can enable the students to become co-owners of the assessment process, which leads to them taking a more responsible approach to their work.
5 Analyse the role of peer- and self-assessment in the assessment process Peer-assessment involves students working together to test each other’s knowledge and understanding of the topic under discussion. This is a less formal type of assessment than a tutor-led assessment, such as a class test, although it may be observed by the tutor. In general students are more likely to enjoy and benefit from this method of assessment. They can share their triumphs and difficulties, and use their strengths to help other with their weaknesses. Self-assessment involves the student assessing their own progress. It encourages the student to take personal responsibility for their learning, by reflecting on their progress and their performance to date. This reflection can help a student see mistakes as part of the learning process and as opportunities for further development. Both peer- and self-assessment allow students to practice such skills as listening, observing and questioning. They also encourage students to own their learning experience and the assessment process.
6 Review ways to give constructive feedback to motivate learners Feedback should be given throughout the course, to inform the student how they are progressing and what they have achieved. This is intended to reassure the student and to boost their confidence, as well as to motivate them to carry on working hard. To be constructive, feedback should be delivered sensitively, and should be given to help students achieve their goals and to clarify how the topic fits into the course as a whole (metacognition). Good feedback will give the student information about their strengths and weaknesses, in preference to plain praise or criticism. This can be done verbally or in writing. It can be direct to the individual or indirect, to the group as a whole. All criticism, however constructive, is usually difficult to receive. It is best delivered as part of the well-tested ‘praise sandwich’, whereby the comment is both preceded and followed by some positive feedback. This completes the feedback on a high rather than on a low.