Theories and Principles of Assessment

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Unit 2 Assignment 1
Look at some theories and principles of assessment and then explain how you apply them in relation to your own teaching practice and whether or not they can be seen to work.  What role does assessment have in evaluation of teaching and learning?  In what way can assessment help with quality processes?  Make sure you use examples from your own teaching whenever possible.

When discussing any aspect of assessment of an education programme we must first break down the methodology. In this case the breakdown is fundamentally clear; 1. Purpose of Assessment
2. Formative vs. Summative Assessment
3. Types of Assessment
4. Quality Processes
5. Evaluation of Assessment in Teaching and Learning
Once we look at assessment, we are looking at something which, historically, has been at the will of the social, cultural, political and moral values of the marker. That is to say, and admittedly not all of these traits are manifestly evident, some are hidden, the level of assessment, certainly at higher education levels, is of a more subjective nature, rather than the ‘tide-turning’ objectivity of modern assessment methods or regimes. Whilst each of the approaches has its merits, and de-merits, there is a need for continuous assessment. This essay will describe the principles of assessment, and some of the theories and methods of assessment, in a mainly contextual environment, related to my own area of work, before concluding with the role of assessment in teaching and learning and it contribution to the quality processes in education. Where possible it will be indexed with appropriate examples. “Assessment plays a crucial role in the education process: it determines much of the work students undertake (possibly all in the case of strategic students), affects their approach to learning, and, it can be argued, is an indication of which aspects of the course are valued most highly.”

(Rust, 2002)
This quote seems as good a place to start as any. Although it is the view that the statement, whilst being clear, does not encompass the fundamentality of assessment, and this is all too easily, as has been seen previously, that of how much value is attached to the teaching and the retaining of information. It is only assessment, and regular assessment, that can give these values credence, and display the full practice of teaching, rather than have a summative (discussed later) ending to a module/academic year, that is merely based on ‘one-off’ teaching or opinion based essays backed up by methodology or research, and underlying philosophical values. If we look at using assessment as a tool for educators, we must first observe the purpose of assessment; “we actually assess students for quite a range of different reasons; motivation, creating learning opportunities, to give feedback, to grade and as a quality assurance mechanism”

(Rust, 2002)
Rust goes on further to suggest that assessment is a function of education that allows us to gauge the level of educational activity being produced/delivered/engaged in. We assess for all of these reasons – if we didn’t then how do we know how effective we are as teachers – 1. has the information delivered – ‘sunk-in?’

2. can the student demonstrate this?
3. can we show, and allow, progression?
Hopefully effective assessment procedures will allow us to all three of these questions, certainly the first two, and input remedial action for the third. I will, through this essay, allow a transitional look at the types of assessment to conclude with an idea of assessment that “…students would benefit from, with more opportunities to build on their strengths and learn from their mistakes through feedback from formative assessment activities staged throughout their course…”

(Rust, 2002)
To engage in questions of assessment, I can point towards areas in which I assess. I currently assess in three areas; one via the traditional...
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