Enabling Learning Through Assessment Essay

Learning is something that everybody does, be it in the classroom or outside of it. Learning is an active ‘meaning-making process. Only information that has been structured and organised by the learner can pass into the long-term memory and then be used in real life.

In order to achieve goals and progress in life we need to learn, be it every day survival skills or acquiring academic knowledge. To determine how much we already know or to determine how much we have learnt so far, there must be a means to test this. We would do this by assessment.Educational assessment is the process of documenting, usually in measurable terms, knowledge and skills. There are many different types of assessments based on comparing the relative performance of students.

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Either by comparing the performance of individual students within the group being tested or by comparing their performance with that of others of similar age, experience and background which is referred to as Norm- referenced. This form of assessment has its advantages, so far as students can be given predictive grades thus enabling them to aim higher and motivate for further study.Another advantage for the institutions league tables is that variations in difficulty of exams from year to year do not affect grades but is potentially unfair as students may be better one year than the next. ‘teaching today’ Geoff Petty 4th edition pg 479. Another type of assessment would be Criterion referenced. This type of assessment does not compare the relative performance of students to one another. The student performance is assessed against predetermined criteria. With this type of assessment there are normally no numerical marks to the performance, it would be on a ‘pass/fail’ basis.

Assessing in this way has its advantages but can only be reliable if the criteria are well defined. Otherwise different people marking it will apply different standards or the same marker may apply different standards on different days/moods or to different candidates. ‘Teaching today’ Geoff Petty 4th edition pg 480. There are different forms of assessment: Examinations, reports, presentations, portfolios, viva-voce to name but a few. An important part of assessment would be essays as they are a good means to show the assessor the students capability to research their learnt topic and show what or how much of an nderstanding the learner has gained from what they were taught.

Essays also enable the learner to go more in depth on a topic through their own individual research thus displaying a deep approach to learning.Using this kind of assessment (formative) can be a great benefit to the learner and the teacher if practiced correctly. “Formative assessment is informative feed-back to learners while they are still learning the topic. But to be truly formative, this information must be used by the learner to improve. ” ‘Teaching today’ Gregg Petty 4th edition pg 480.

Quite often the teacher may test the students knowledge, point out errors and constructively criticize work that is not of an acceptable standard and then move on to the next topic without reviewing their work again to ensure the pointed out errors have been corrected and understood. The teacher may just assume now the mistakes have been pointed out the learner will automatically understand. A lot of the time the teacher may not have the time to go over things, as they are often under time constraints themselves and have to cover certain topics over a given amount of time.When assessing students you have to take a number of things into consideration. Differentiation strategies have to be put into play in order to ensure success in learning for all, by accommodating individual differences of any kind. In choosing an assessment for ESL students, you have to look at the criteria for choice of assessment. It must be valid, ensuring what is being assessed is being measured. Varied, students who strive in one area but not necessarily in others are all given equal opportunities by using a variety of techniques and learning styles.

Herrmann’s ‘whole-brain’ model shows that everyone has a preference two of the four styles of learning which are: Theorist- the rational self (males often prefer this) responding to formalised lectures, textbooks, programmed learning and so on. Then you have: Organisers- the safe keeping self, who respond to thorough planning, sequential order discussions, text books and so on. You have Innovators- the experimental self who respond to spontaneity, free flow, playfulness, experimentation and exploration.Finally you have the Humanitarians- the feeling self (females often prefer this), responding to sensory movement, music, group discussion, empathy and role play. Therefore to keep it varied you would try to incorporate all four styles into your teaching as although we all have our own preferred style of learning we enjoy being challenged and benefit from learning new styles outside of our comfort zones. The assessments you choose should be interesting and contextual thus making them more appealing to the learner if it’s something they can relate of identify with.Assessments should be valued so the learner will gain something at the end of it and of course efficient, making allowances for time and resources.

By using a diagnostic assessment for ESL students it was a very effective way to assess the different capabilities of each learner to a certain extent. This allows the teacher to put learners into the write level of study and allows the learner to gain knowledge of where they need to improve and focus on. To aid learning you need to have a starting point and some kind of understand of what is known and what isn’t.

I chose to give my students a diagnostic assessment as this form of testing is convenient, scored objectively and can test large groups of students. 3D Enabling Learning Through Assessment Part B Evaluating my choice I had to look at what it really means to evaluate and then questioned myself as to whether or not my choice of assessment was the right one and how I could improve it. Firstly ‘Evaluation is the collection of, analysis and interpretation of information about any aspect of a program of education or training as part of a recognised process of judging its effectiveness, its efficiency and any other outcomes it may have’.Mary Thorpe in ‘Handbook of Education Technology’ (Ellington, Percival and Race, 1998). Although there are many positive aspects of this type of assessment as I’ve listed above, it is clear that they do not meet specific goals and objectives of a programme of learning. This type of Norm- referenced assessment data may be less useful than Criterion- referenced.

It is also difficult to pin point what changes need to be made as it’s more summative than formative.After recently marking a set of diagnostic assessment papers I gave to my students, it was clear to see that although this test was convenient and time effective, I was unable to clearly identify each students individual and specific needs. It was clear that some students were very capable of reading and writing English but after further investigation, some of these students found it very difficult to communicate verbally. The same has to be said for a lot of the students who did not do so well in the papers I marked but speaking to them they spoke English quite fluently and learly. With ESL learners an individual assessment would be more informative and affective, enabling you to work on an action plans for each student, setting out individual aims goals. Although to do this would not be cost effective in the short term. One way to improve this form of assessment would be to select diagnostic assessments which implement criterion referenced results.

Another improvement would be to use other assessment methods to compare against them, to ensure these tests are more accurate and fair to the individuals learning abilities.With diagnostic tests every student has exactly the same set of questions and therefore can give a wrong or write answer to these written tests. A lot of ESL learners, for example, have very good spoken English but their reading and writing skills are substantially weaker. That’s one reason why these types of diagnostic tests can prove to be not entirely accurate and other forms of assessment should be put into play. As this type of assessment is very cut and dry, giving students feedback can be quite challenging if the student as obtained a low grade.We give feedback so the students know what they need to improve on and what they have learnt well. Negative feedback can be quite damaging to a students confidence and motivation.

The Open University’s idea of the ‘feedback sandwich’ is a very effective way of giving students feedback using the rules: 1. First, give them the good news. 2.

Next, give them the bad news- constructively! – and tell them why it is bad and what to do about it. 3. Finally, end on a high note of encouragement. Action plan for improvement.

As stated by Geoff Petty, “Once the course has been evaluated, suggestions are drawn up for its improvement. This is called the action plan; without it, the evaluation would have been largely a waste of time. Ideally, someone should be made responsible for carrying out or overseeing each improvement”. To focus on my improvement, my personal action plan would be as follows: Action Plan My objective is: To devise a more effective assessment for my students which enables me to get a better understanding of their needs and capabilities as appose to the diagnostic assessment I chose.To achieve this I will need to do the following: 1. Give myself plenty of time for planning and research.

2. Seek help from my tutor when needed. 3.

Explore more and different avenues for research and delivery purposes. 4. Use statistical analysis to discover opportunities for immediate and long-term improvement. 5.

Continuously check and review my progress as I go. Following this action plan step by step and focusing my ideas and implementing them in my teaching practice, I should achieve my goals.


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