What is assessment? Black and William (1998) declare that the term assessment is generally used to refer to all activities teachers use to help students learn and to gauge student progress.
There are many different forms of assessment, however they can generally be divided into two main categories; formative and summative which can be formal or informal. Formative assessment focuses on the gap between where a learner is in their learning, and where they need to be. Marshall (2006) states that formative assessment gives you more flexibility, your assessments can focus on the individual needs of your learners. Formative assessment is usually carried out during the learning process and is a form of giving feedback to the learner, in order for them to understand how they are progressing and to identify areas that may require further attention and what they need to do to achieve the learning outcome.
Summative Assessment on the other hand tends to be a formal measuring of the learning and focuses on the achievements of the learner at a particular time. This could be at the end of a term or at the end of a particular program of study. It is generally used to identify if the learner has achieved a level of competence and/or knowledge. Summative assessments can take the form of test, exams - Practical, oral or written, the individual is usually given a score which can result in a pass or fail.
Assessments can be Objective or Subjective. When assessments are objective, the questions asked have a single correct answer; these questions can take the form of multiple choice or true and false answers. When assessments are subjective, the questions asked may have more than one answer and can take the form of a written response such as an essay.
There are also criterion-referenced and norm-referenced assessments. A criteria-referenced assessment measures what a learner can actually do (their competence) and it is measured against a set
References: Black, Paul, & William, Dylan (October 1998). "Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards Through Classroom Assessment."Phi Beta Kappan. Available at http://www.pdkintl.org/kappan/kbla9810.htm. Marshall B. (2006) Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector BTEC Level 3 Edexcel Limited London (page 81) Wikipedia (2009) Assessment (online) available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assessment accessed on 11/12 Oct 09