Initial and diagnostic assessments should effectively diagnose learners’ strengths and weaknesses. Learners who know what their strengths are and which areas they need to improve are more likely be motivated and “know what is expected of them” (Gravells, 2012, p.50) to progress and meet the requirements of a course or programme.
In order to determine “the level and which specific aspects learners need to improve on” (Gravells, 2012, p.50), teachers should administer initial and diagnostic assessments to them before or at the start of a course or programme. The results of initial and diagnostic assessments can be used to help learners agree on Individual Learning Plans specifically designed to meet their learning needs. Some learners might have expectations of making rapid progress within a course or programme but unexpectedly experience difficulties due to a lack of personal or functional skills. Initial and diagnostic assessments should help teachers identify problems early relating to their learners’ personal skills. In certain circumstances, results from initial and diagnostic assessment might indicate that some learners do not have the requisite skills to have any realistic chance of progressing within a course or programme and they should be referred to a course or programme which more specifically meets their learning needs. On the other hand, some learners might have very advanced personal skills or abilities in relation to the minimum core and teachers should be able to ascertain which of their learners would need to feel more challenged during the programme and plan different activities to meet the needs of these learners. Results from initial and diagnostic assessments should be used by teachers to discuss and agree realistic targets with their learners early in the course or programme.
1.2 Use methods of initial and diagnostic assessment with learners.
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