Assessing and accrediting in context

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As part of the first year of my Certificate of education course I have been asked to develop and evaluate two assessment techniques that are to be used within my teaching sessions. The two assessment techniques that I have chosen are, oral questioning and short answer written questions. The first of my two assessment choices is oral questioning. Oral questioning is most commonly used as a formative assessment tool and is used to check the student’s learning as well as stimulating thought and discussion.

Oral questioning is an assessment tool that I have used regularly in the past, it is not however something that I am fully comfortable with yet. I feel that the more I use this form of assessment, the easier it should become, this is because I am able to build up a collection of various questions that I can ask about each topic as well as be prepared for any possible discussions that may follow.

It was my intention to use the questioning technique within a GNVQ class, in which I am currently teaching combined mathematics and science. Within this class there is a wide range of ability and motivation, and because of this not every member of the group becomes as involved as the others, I have seen this technique as a possible way of encouraging more participation from some members of the group as well as ensuring that the previous work has been understood before continuing to the next topic.

Questioning can be a useful tool when attempting to involve all of the class in a discussion about a predetermined topic, although there is often the danger that the more quiet members of the group will shy away from the questioning and allow the more confident members of the group to dominate the session. When using this technique within my classroom I found that it was very difficult to encourage some members of the class to volunteer answers to the questions, and that a regular group of three or four students were answering to the majority.

During the session I attempted to give the quieter members of the group a little more confidence by directing easier questions towards them in the hope that the correct answers to these questions would be followed by more attempts due to their increased confidence, although this did not work as well as was first hoped.

The less able students did not wish to attempt questions due to the risk of being incorrect and any extra pressure from myself made the students look increasingly uncomfortable, because of this I did not force the students to answer any questions that they did not wish to and I feel that the positive encouragement that was given during this session will eventually encourage these students to play a more active role within classroom sessions.

The questioning session also highlighted the fact that the students that did not wish to participate during classroom discussion may be having difficulty understanding the topic fully, and therefore extra sessions that are designed to re-enforce the previously covered work may be required. My second assessment tool was a part completed handout with a range of short answer questions at the end. Again this is a form of assessment that I use regularly within my classroom sessions and I feel that it works effectively. I design the work packs to be read as a group and the blank spaces completed as we arrive at them.

The purpose of the blank spaces is to encourage thought on behalf of the learner and to try to ensure that the students remember this information. The final section within the pack consists of a range of questions covering the work that has been completed within the pack. The questions are designed to begin at a low level and to gradually build up towards difficult, the purpose of this varied degree of difficulty is to allow the student the build on their confidence with the beginning questions and to allow the more able class members the opportunity to progress onto the more advanced questions.

I often include more questions than I think it will be possible to complete for the majority of the class within the time scale allowed, as I feel that it is preferable for the slower members of the group to have missed some questions than the faster students to have finished all of the questions which could then lead to disruption within the lesson.

The questions are not intended to be summative and therefore I usually offer the students assistance when completing them, provided the student has at least attempted the work alone first, this allows me to see which students require the most help and any areas of the topic that may need to be reinforced.

I feel that both of the mentioned assessment techniques are of use, both individually and when combined, although within the examples that I have given neither of these tools are being used for summative purposes, I feel that they can prove to be of great importance when assessing the amount of learning that is taking place throughout the course and to increase student participation.

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