Enabling Learning and Assessment (Numeracy)
Geoff Petty (2009) describes assessment as a four part process in which we:
1. Plan – decide what and how to teach to ensure your sessions are effective and suit the learners needs
2. Assess – develop suitable ways to discover what progress has been made towards the learning goal
3. Inform – give feedback on the results of assessment
4. Address – use the results of assessment to inform future planning
(Petty, 2009, p534)
Though on face value it appears the main function of assessment is to measure the performance of students (and teachers), there are many different purposes and consequently countless methods of assessment. Generally, these methods fall into one of five categories, each representing different stages of the teaching cycle. They are screening, initial, diagnostic, formative and summative.
Screening, initial and diagnostic assessments such as Target Skills take place at the beginning of a course and examples are interviews, application forms and written or spoken tests (Wilson, 2009). Results are used to guide the course choices of learners, to identify strengths and weaknesses and ascertain prior knowledge. These outcomes guide formation of Individual Learning Plans which are used plan steps towards long term goals. It appears that Target Skills Gold is primarily used for initial assessment at Newcastle College, although functionality for building an ILP is available.
Formative assessments using activities such as quizzes, discussions or short tests etc have a much broader purpose. They can be used to track progress and measure learning during the course as an ongoing process. Formative assessment is often used as a way to check that learning has taken place (Wilson, 2009). However, many theorists such as Black and Wiliam (1998, 2004) believe that formative assessment