Key Concepts and the Principles of Assessment
“Assessment focuses on the learners’ performance. It is about measuring achievement, both ongoing (formative) and at the end of the programme (summative).” Wallace. S (2007: 118)
Assessment is a process through which we gauge a learners level and progression, ensuring learning is taking place and the learner is developing their skills and knowledge. Susan Wallace recognises the importance of assessment as more than a means of determining learner achievement but also “as an indicator of the quality of learning.” (2007: 119) discussing the need for ‘ongoing assessment’ to evaluate how receptive learners are to the lessons.
The key concepts of assessment, as outlined by Reece and Walker, are to obtain information about the learner; their knowledge/experience and level of learning, which will inform judgements made to predict the learners ‘future performance’ ultimately allowing a tutor to make decisions on how to approach the learners development. Reece and Walker (2007: 35) As Ann Gravells notes;
“Assessment is a regular process; it might not always be formalised, but you will be observing what your learners are doing, asking them questions, and reviewing their progress.” Gravells (2009: 07)
Therefore assessment can be understood as a means to not only certificate a learners achievement at the end of a course but also to establish a learners needs at the start of a learning programme and continually throughout the learning process to evaluate the learning taking place. Assessment should be valid, reliable, fair, sufficient for external awarding bodies/examiners and authentic as the students own work.
Different Types of Assessment
The stages of assessment as illustrated by Kidd and Czerniawski cover the four categories of Initial (or Diagnostic ), Formative, Summative and Ipsative (2010: 128). Initial assessment takes place at the start of a programme or course to determine a learners prior knowledge or experience and to establish a learners suitability for the course. Ann Gravells recognises,
“Relevant initial assessment activities will also give you information regarding your learners; for example special requirements they may have, their learning style, or any training they may need.” (2009: 09)
Kidd and Czerniawski additionally discuss the use of initial assessment as a means of predicting ’grades of achievement’ (2010: 128) as previously recognised by Reece and Walker in their key concept of ‘judgement‘. (2007: 35) It is to the benefit of the learner to establish any needs or requirements such as additional learning support, to be arranged before the start of the course/programme. Susan Wallace notes the importance of meeting a learners needs commenting that;
“We need to ensure that they are able to access the organisational support and services which are appropriate to their individual needs; and that they are able to identify an appropriate and route of progression.” (2007: 164)
Formative assessment is an ongoing process used to continuously check the learners progress and development, additionally acting as a means of reflecting upon a tutors own methods of teaching, as noted by Reece and Walker (2007: 323). Assessing my film studies students throughout the module programme will allow me to adjust my lesson plans accordingly if learners are struggling or if I need to recap any information from previous sessions to ensure all students are at the same level.
Summative assessment takes place at the end of a course as “a final measurement of the outcome of the programme being studied” Kidd and Czerniawski (2010: 128). It can be used as a means of giving a final grade/certification for the course, giving the learner an indication of their achievements or pass level. This type of assessment can include norm referenced assessment which includes practical tests and/or examinations, and citerion referenced assessment which can include...
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