Enabling Learning Through Assessment

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3D Enabling Learning Through Assessment
Part A

Learning is something that everybody does, be it in the classroom or outside of it. Learning is an active ‘meaning-making process. Only information that has been structured and organised by the learner can pass into the long-term memory and then be used in real life. In order to achieve goals and progress in life we need to learn, be it every day survival skills or acquiring academic knowledge. To determine how much we already know or to determine how much we have learnt so far, there must be a means to test this. We would do this by assessment. Educational assessment is the process of documenting, usually in measurable terms, knowledge and skills. There are many different types of assessments based on comparing the relative performance of students. Either by comparing the performance of individual students within the group being tested or by comparing their performance with that of others of similar age, experience and background which is referred to as Norm- referenced. This form of assessment has its advantages, so far as students can be given predictive grades thus enabling them to aim higher and motivate for further study. Another advantage for the institutions league tables is that variations in difficulty of exams from year to year do not affect grades but is potentially unfair as students may be better one year than the next. ‘teaching today’ Geoff Petty 4th edition pg 479. Another type of assessment would be Criterion referenced. This type of assessment does not compare the relative performance of students to one another. The student performance is assessed against predetermined criteria. With this type of assessment there are normally no numerical marks to the performance, it would be on a ‘pass/fail’ basis. Assessing in this way has its advantages but can only be reliable if the criteria are well defined. Otherwise different people marking it will apply different standards or the same marker may apply different standards on different days/moods or to different candidates. ‘Teaching today’ Geoff Petty 4th edition pg 480. There are different forms of assessment: Examinations, reports, presentations, portfolios, viva-voce to name but a few. An important part of assessment would be essays as they are a good means to show the assessor the students capability to research their learnt topic and show what or how much of an understanding the learner has gained from what they were taught. Essays also enable the learner to go more in depth on a topic through their own individual research thus displaying a deep approach to learning. Using this kind of assessment (formative) can be a great benefit to the learner and the teacher if practiced correctly. “Formative assessment is informative feed-back to learners while they are still learning the topic. But to be truly formative, this information must be used by the learner to improve.” ‘Teaching today’ Gregg Petty 4th edition pg 480. Quite often the teacher may test the students knowledge, point out errors and constructively criticize work that is not of an acceptable standard and then move on to the next topic without reviewing their work again to ensure the pointed out errors have been corrected and understood. The teacher may just assume now the mistakes have been pointed out the learner will automatically understand. A lot of the time the teacher may not have the time to go over things, as they are often under time constraints themselves and have to cover certain topics over a given amount of time. When assessing students you have to take a number of things into consideration. Differentiation strategies have to be put into play in order to ensure success in learning for all, by accommodating individual differences of any kind. In choosing an assessment for ESL students, you have to look at the criteria for choice of assessment. It must be valid, ensuring what is being assessed is being measured. Varied, students...
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