What is meant by assessment? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the assessment types and methods you use? How would you involve your learner into the assessment process? Why do we need to keep records of assessment? Assessments are a critical part of the education system; highlighted by Black and Wiliams’(1998) who define assessments as activities providing “information to be used as feedback to modify the teaching and learning activities in which they are engaged”. There are two forms of assessment; formative and summative.
Formative assessments are carried out as the course progresses. These are an informal and simple way of gauging how and what your students are learning. This then allows teachers to amend their teaching to accommodate the results as evaluation and reflection takes place. Furthermore students can identify the areas of development and ‘ensure that objectives are being met’ (Minton,1991, p183). Feedback is therefore considered to be significant for the continued development and progression of learners (Petty, 2010). Summative assessment, however, refers to a more traditional approach for testing learners.
It involves assessing learners at the end of the course/year providing a final grade. Summative assessment can be very effective, however, it could be very demanding for an adult with learning disabilities as they may find it difficult to recollect information from the beginning of the course. Initial assessment should take place before a learner begins the course; these are ‘an evaluation of a learner’s skills, knowledge, strengths and areas for development. ’ (Gravells, 2012). This is effective when working with adults with learning disabilities as it will help establish the appropriate pitch, pace and content/resources to be used.
Furthermore, it will be a way of recognising prior learning and such experience/qualifications can be validated. Rules of assessment should be adhered to ensure equality and fair testing: they should be valid, reliable, authentic, current and sufficient. Teachers/Assessors should not discriminate against learners in their choice of assessment method and planning and should advance anti-discriminatory practice. There are many forms of assessment strategies in English; these include speaking and listening assessments, controlled assessments, quizzes/worksheets, essays etc.
Speaking and listening assessments are means of measuring a learners’ communication skills. Individuals are assessed on their ability to project their ideas, viewpoints and their listening skills. This allows learners to work in a group, supporting each other by sharing ideas and improve their functional skills. Furthermore, it can be videoed as evidence. However, it is difficult to assess the level of understanding of the learners through this method alone. Furthermore, this is a subjective strategy and feedback can be limited. Worksheets and quizzes both can be set as individual or group work.
They provide an objective mark at the end which can lead to informative feedback based on the learner’s strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement. The tasks can be fun, engaging and interesting for learners. This strategy has reliability because worksheets/quizzes are consistent as similar results can be gained. Furthermore, they are valid because they measure understanding as the learners attempt to answer questions and the marks obtained shows the stage, progress and understanding of each learner. The benefits are highly valuable as the learners enjoy completing the activities.
Mitchells (1997) recognised that games and quizzes can be motivating for those learners who struggle with formal teaching styles. Other assessments include observation, watching and evaluating the learners’ progress. Observations should reflect a learner’s daily performance and should be recorded fully on paper; audiotape or video, with an awareness of confidentiality issues, signed and dated by the teacher/assessor and learner. The more detailed and factual the record, the stronger the evidence may be in terms of validity and reliability.
Such observations should be planned in advance with the 1 / 3 agreement of the learner’s manager and colleagues. However, teachers can take opportunities to record observations of unplanned events, if useful as evidence. Through observations, teacher/assessor can gather sufficient evidence and can then relate the observation back to many different units/elements of the qualification. Also, it allows teachers to see natural competence first hand in an authentic and reliable manner. Nevertheless, there are disadvantages of observations:
A learner’s normal duties may not cover all assessment criteria; observations may be unnerving for learners and observations can take a lot of an assessor’s time and expense. Brookfield’s (1998) model of reflection states that it is critical that one views themselves and their teaching through the perspective of their learners. In this lens there is a strong focus on the learner’s ‘voice’ and so value is placed on their viewpoints and also their articulation of work. Therefore, it is important to gain the learners’ thoughts on the assessment strategy. Learners should be informed of how they will be assessed from the onset, involved in feedback and evaluation at every level.
Furthermore, prior to assessment, learners could be shown a model answer and given success criterion to ensure they understand how to achieve the desired level/grade. Involving learners in the assessment process is a key way of helping them to manage and ‘take ownership’ of their learning, by reflecting on achievement and progress. Involving them in recording their own and each others’ progress and planning the next steps in learning can deepen their understanding and reinforce their sense of achievement. Therefore they should be briefed about expectations, purpose and benefits of becoming involved in assessment.
Self-assessment will allow learners to reflect upon their own progress and assesses their own development and achievements. However, self-assessment is not always easy and teachers should guide learners in a step-by-step process so they learn how to evaluate their own work and learning style, perhaps by modelling. Reid (2011) suggests that you can use other learners if, for example, they observed your learner. This refers to peer assessment, where peers assess the learner’s developments and achievements through observation of their practice during an activity.
Peer assessment and feedback activities give students opportunities to internalise the criteria, learn from examples, enables evaluation and reflection and allows development of responsibility for own learning. However there might be some drawbacks from this as some students may express concerns about showing their work to others that are not qualified to assess their work. Also, it needs to be reliable and accurate; therefore strategies need to be put into place to ensure objectivity. Records are an integral part of the teaching and learning process.
Gravells (2012) argues that records must be maintained, to support the teaching and learning process and to satisfy auditors, inspectors, regulators, verifiers, internal and external quality assurers and your own organisation’s requirements. Teachers should retain documents such as the syllabus, scheme of work, session plans, action plans, hand-outs/activities for the learner, and assessment records such as tracking sheets, marked assignments, portfolios etc. Holding records of the course and content would allow inspections on the manner in which the course is being taught and to ensure it is being delivered in accordance to specifications.
Teacher must also keep records of learners’ progression. This will identify whether the student is on task to complete course or having difficulty. Clear, concise information and evidence will lead to a greater understanding of learner needs and enable teachers to amend their teaching styles to accommodate the learner needs. Records must be kept for a length of time stipulated by your organisation in case of an auditing process. However under the Data Protection Act 1998, this information should be “kept secure with appropriate technical and organisational measures taken to protect the information’ and confidentiality should be maintained.
A very good explanation of why records must be kept in an institute. 2 / 3 Word count: 1102 (excluding references) References Benjamin S Bloom. (1980), All Our Children Learning, New York: McGraw-Hill. Black, P. , & Wiliam, D. (1998), Inside the Black Box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. King’s College London School of Education, pg 2 Brookfield, S. (1998) Critically reflective teacher. Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions Data Protection Act (2008), Information Commissioners Office, <
www.ico. gov. uk> Date accessed 21/02/14 Gravells, A. (2012) Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (5th Edition) Learning Matters Ltd Exeter Minton, D. , (1991), Teaching Skills in Further and Adult Education, Macmillan Press Ltd. Mitchell, C. (1997), Transforming Teaching; Selecting and evaluating teaching strategies. Further Education Matters. Petty, G. (2010) Teaching Today – Home page, http://www. geoffpetty. com/, 201O Read, H, (2011) The Best Assessor’s Guide. Bideford: Read On Publications POWERED BY TCPDF (WWW. TCPDF. ORG).