Assessment is the devising and use of tools to find out the nature and quality of learning (Minton pg 270). Assessment measures the breadth and depth of learning. It serves many different purposes. It can grade the attainment of learners, help to select candidates for jobs or future courses, contribute to evidence on the effectiveness of courses and teachers, and provide a goal for learners. But this applies mainly to the final or summative assessment of the course, which aims to sum up the learners achievements. (Petty, pg401)
The main use of assessment for teachers is the ongoing or formative assessment. This is used throughout the course to form judgements on whether, and to what extent learning has been successful; and to pinpoint difficulties so that remedial action can be taken (Petty, pg 401)
The aims and objectives of this assignment are to:
a) Describe, use and evaluate an assessment activity
b) Comment on how the information would be used to evaluate teaching.
Validity and Reliability of Assessment
Validity provides a check on how well the test fulfils its functions, in other words whether it actually measures the knowledge or skills it is designed to assess (Petty, pg 416)- it test the target knowledge and skills and not something else. A valid test should assess a representative sample of course content.
To be valid, an assessment must also sample across a large proportion of the topics of the syllabus, and sample all the appropriate labels in blooms taxonomy. The breadth and depth of learning sampled by the assessment must be correctly weighted in the marking. (Petty, pg416)
Reliability often refers to consistency of scores obtained by the same persons when retested. In other words a different examiner assessing the same work would award the same score; all subsequent tests score the same score on tests administered at different times. According to Minton (pg 279) ” In practise reliability is impossible to achieve, certain assessment methods are more or less reliable than others.” For example essay questions are less reliable than objective test questions.
The assessment methods/activities I apply to check on learning are informal. I make mental notes and keep notes of the learners progress rather than formally assessing which involves recording the assessment objectively and in a format which can be looked at by others. I am not responsible for formal assessments.
The assessment activities I use are group/pair tasks, games, quizzes, and question and answer sessions (see appendix A- lesson plan).
I often use group activities. I split students into groups of two, three of four depending on activity and the no. of attendees. Examples are matching card games and quizzes.
Matching cards game.
The students are split into groups of four. I prepare two sets of cards for each group, one set with question and the other set with corresponding answers. The task is to match the questions with the corresponding answers or phrases with definitions within a set time period.
The class is arranged in a ‘game show’ setting, the students play as individuals, pairs or split into groups of three. Questions are delivered by the ‘host’ (me). Points are allocated for correct answers, the team that attains the highest points wins the game.
What is being assessed?
I assess the learners; knowledge and understanding of the topic; ability to link theory to practice (appendix A); ability to answer questions, group interaction and lesson aims and objectives have been achieved.
When and How does assessment take place?
I use the activities either at the start, during or at the end of the lesson depending on the activity. The Q &A sessions and group/pair tasks are carried out during the lesson, activities such as quizzes and games are used at the end of the lesson. I assess by monitoring the learner’s performance of tasks, asking questions, Inspecting work produced and by observing body language.
Why the chosen assessment activity?
I use these activities to establish that the learners have understood the topic, to monitor progression, to judge needs of development, to prove my capability as a teacher and to maintain standard.
The methods I use give me a good indication as to what the learner understands or is still struggling with and hence what topic/areas to re-visit (spend more time on).
For example, during a couple of sessions, I noticed that the students were struggling to name organic compounds. I made a mental note of this and arranged a tutorial to spend more time and simplify ways/methods for this. The ability to name chemical compounds was a fundamental part of the course.
Differences between Assessment and Evaluation
Assessment measures the breadth and depth of learning whereas Evaluation is assessing the effectiveness of an ongoing program in achieving its objectives. In order to evaluate my assessment activity, I first test the method and request feedbacks from the learners.
The general opinion was that the activity made the topics more interesting; the learning process enjoyable, and encouraged teamwork, interaction and participation.
I was pleasantly surprised of the outcome. The students who were normally quiet and shy were very active and interacted well with others. For these reasons I use the card game regularly and feel that they it is a productive and effective learning tool.
The preparation for the ‘Matching Card’ assessment activity is simple but very effective. The aids used are two sets of bright coloured cards and a pen. The question, answers, phrases and definitions are handwritten.
The aims and objectives of each lesson is achieved because the tasks are completed successful at the same time learning is taking place. If on the other hand the learners are struggling to understand a particular topic that topic is reviewed during the lesson or in a tutorial.
Prior to the introduction of this activity (and the quiz) the students were divided, certain groups of friends sat and only interacted with one another, whilst certain students sat alone and rarely said a word. I was able to break these barriers by splitting and mixing the groups, placing them with students that they would not have normally interacted with. I’ve noticed the students becoming competitive (but friendly) amongst each other because they all want to be winners!
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