Assessment for Learning

By Nkem Iloeje-Agu

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The assessment for learning is one of the three types of assessment which an education provider must utilise in achieving maximum performance in the learner. It is probably the most important of the three, especially as a tool for effective teaching.

There are two forms of assessments for learning, respectively called the diagnostic assessment and the formative assessment.

The strategies for running an assessment for learning include:

  1. Analysis of student’s work. These include homework, quizzes and tests. They are diagnostic assessment, and though not aimed for grading purposes, help the teacher to ascertain the extent of learning, at the end of a teaching period, in order to more objectively plan the lesson contents and methods for the next class on the topic.
  • Strategic questioning. This may be done with individual students or groups. Here, the teacher asks students well-thought-out, higher-order questions which require the student to think deeper and creatively to provide the how and why of taught concepts or topics.

Questions may also be such as that gives the student time within which to come up with answers.

Strategic questioning is a formative assessment approach, which runs at intervals within and during the class period.

  • Think-Pair-Share Strategy. This is a formative assessment strategy in which students are asked questions during the period, and each is given time to think of the question. Then they are formed into pairs or small groups to discuss each person’s thought, and come up with a collaboratively arrived-at answer.

During the discussion period, teacher moves from group to group, listening to the discussions, and challenging with further questions from the discussions heard. The teacher is also able to get useful insight on how much each individual had been able to grasp the concepts in the topic taught.

At the end of the group discussion, each group discusses its own thoughts with the others.

With this activity, students are allowed to take charge of their learning, and usually learn and perform better as a result.

  • Exit and Admit Ticket. The admit ticket (a diagnostic assessment tool) is a paper or an index card  on which a student is required to write whatever previous knowledge or information, biases or opinions about the topic to be taught.

With this, the teacher is better equipped to effectively plan his lesson contents.

The exit ticket is another diagnostic assessment tool. It is the index card or paper on which the students write a summary of his understanding of the concepts taught in the class period.

This instructs the teacher of how much each student has grasped what was taught, and guides him in planning subsequent classes.

  • One Minute Paper. This is another diagnostic tool for assessment, and is typically done at the end of each class. The teacher asks questions, to which the students are expected to quickly provide the answers. The feedback the teacher receives will serve as his guide for preparing for the next period.

A good one-minute question would usually strive to drive the students to provide:

  1. The main point of the topic
  2. The most surprising or unexpected concept or take-away from the topic
  3. Any questions or any answers
  4. The most confusing areas or concepts encountered
  5. Suggestions as to the what questions might appear in the next test from the topic

Both types of assessment for learning, especially the formative assessment is essential because, it alerts both student and teacher on the likely result of any form of grading tests or examinations which the child is likely to face at the end of the academic session.

With formative assessment bother teacher and learner are pre-warned of any lack of or deficient learning, and affords them the timely opportunity to resolve these before any grading assessment,

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