What Do We Need to Assess, Why and How? and Feedback, What Is It and How Should It Be Delivered?

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Portfolio Task 2: What do we need to assess, why, and how?

A quality application of assessment through formative, transformative, performance, authentic and summative assessing and the tools with which to deliver these assessments requires knowing how assessment occurs at the individual, classroom and school levels. The various levels and domains of assessment will be considered through the types listed and an investigation into a range of assessment tools that enable documentation of student progress and development. Assessment will be addressed in two domains: cognitive and affective.

Teachers assess students so that informed instructional decisions can be made and that better learning will occur for students (Scherer, 2009). The decisions that are made by teachers about what assessments to administer are influenced by personal beliefs and values and external factors (McMillan, 2011, p. 22). These factors lead to teachers matching assessments to learning targets and using various types of assessments to assess skills, knowledge, reasoning, deep understanding, products and affects (McMillan, 2011, p. 22).

The individual student experiences various forms of assessment throughout their school life. Informal formative assessment may occur through teacher observations of body language and behaviour and questioning of the individual by the teacher to assess deep understanding or knowledge (McMillan, 2011, p. 103). Deep understanding can be understood as students being able to understand a topic in a relatively systematic, integrated or holistic way (Department of Education, Training and Employment, 2002). For example students working in groups constructing a menu for a healthy meal for the school canteen, must have a sound knowledge of what a healthy meal consists of, will work collaboratively to develop ideas and would need to consult the canteen manager to discuss cost and time constraints. While this is not necessary an individual task it requires the individual to make contributions. Knowledge falls under the domain of cognition and looks at how students recall or recognise information (Bloom, 1956), for example the recollection of the times tables.

Performance and authentic assessment are two assessment types that pertain to the individual. These are focused on deep understanding and have purpose and significance (Curtin University, 2012). Performance assessment involves a task and a methodical evaluation (McMillan, 2011, p. 220). It can encompass simply assessing performance on a piece of imaginative writing (Curtin University, 2012; Palm, T. 2008). Specific criteria should be given to students before this assessment tool is used. This may come in the form of a rubric or scoring criteria (McMillan, 2011, p. 220). The need for students to comprehend how they must demonstrate mastery is essential. “It’s one thing for students to understand what the nature of a curricular aim is; it‘s quite another for them to know how they are to display mastery of that aim” (Popham, 2008, p. 79). This has the potential to lead to transformative assessment. Performance assessment seeks to ensure students’ deep understanding. Through seeking student understanding teachers can discover fresh ideas about the way they teach so that they can “'transform' the way that (our) students learn” (Enston, M. 2013). 

Authentic assessment is usually centred on students engaging in cognitive processes that are important for successful adult accomplishments, and the requirement that students are working with tasks that are important outside of school, or the requirement that students are engaged in assessments under the same working conditions (e.g. time constraints and necessary appliances) as they would have in the real world (Palm, 2008). Authentic assessment can involve reasoning and skill.

A simple example of reasoning is for a student to predict what the weather will be like for the next few days. Reasoning...
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