Enabling Learning

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Analysis of assessment
The word ‘assess’ is a verb meaning to measure: evaluate or estimate the nature, quality, ability, extent, or significance of. (http://wordnet.princenton.edu/perl/webwn 2011) This in itself when thinking in terms of teaching implies it is something done with a learner or learners and not the learners themselves.

“The evidence used in evaluation may include measurements of learning achievement. To do that we must have reliable and valid methods of assessment”. (Minton 1991 p 183)

This is stating that assessment must be reliable and valid, this for me is fundamental. All learners have to be sure that any assessment given to them is going to be sufficient to meet the learning outcomes set so they can get the accreditation they are studying for in my case the learners are studying for the ‘Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS) Award.

“Ecclestone (1996) points out that assessment requires two things: evidence and standards or scales.” (Gray et al. 2005 p50)

This statement has two key points: evidence and standards or scales, again for me this is fundamental. Learners need to be sure that the assessment of their work will be marked to the standard set by the awarding body and meet and evidence transferred over the Qualification from work.

The principles of assessment means the assessment that is being taken must test genuine skills or knowledge, instead of just proving that students can learn by rote or just apply “test-taking skills” on the day. Wilson (2008) suggests the following acronym regarding the practice of assessment:

Consistent - the same test for everyone
Accessible – no barriers to testing should be present
Detailed – the test cannot and should not be vague
Earned – is achieved with rigour and respect
Transparent – the assessment process should be open to scrutiny and verification

In this author’s opinion these principles should be applied to all assessments. For our practices, organisational requirements ensure these principles for summative assessments, but not necessarily for formative ones. The trainer should be employing these principles through formative assessments during every session.

The primary purpose of assessment is for the teacher to analyse learners’ progress for the purpose of modifying and refining the teaching/learning cycle to better meet learners’ needs. Assessment of learners is done for a range of different reasons these can be broken down in to six areas: •because we are required to;

for grading, selection and progression;
to find out if learning has taken place;
to motivate and encourage learners;
to diagnose learners’ needs;
to evaluate and develop learning programs

“Assessment is the process by which evidence of student achievement is obtained and judged.” (Gray et al. 2005 p50)

When looking at the above reason for assessments we can look at the different types of assessments that can be used to meet the needs of the above reasons for assessments.

Types of Assessment
There are five key types of assessments, each distinguished by the kind of questions that it answers. Mostly the same methods and tools can be used to collect data for each of the five types of assessment, initial, diagnostic, formative, summative and ipsative.

For example, Black and Wiliam (1998) defined assessment for learning as “all those activities undertaken by teachers, and/or by their students, which provide information to be used as feedback to modify the teaching and learning activities in which they are engaged” (p. 10).

Initial assessment
The name of this assessment is a key part of the type of assessment; it is at the beginning of a course of learning, or even before the learning starts. Formative assessment:-
Is diagnostic in nature and is primarily concerned with the development of the learner, with identifying strengths and weaknesses, and with providing the learner with feedback on...
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