Assessments serve to evaluate the learner across the different domains. They can be pen and paper based, or based on teacher’s observation of activities and performances, external reviews, and so on.
There are three main types of student assessments, all aimed at achieving best possible educational outcome for the student.
In the past, assessments were seen as an activity done once in a pre-determined while, and usually scheduled to hold at the end of certain teaching and learning periods. They mostly took the forms of grading tests and examinations.
The aim was to determine what he child had been able to learn and retain within the assessed period, and therefore to confirm the level of his qualification or not, for the next class, academic level or some academic awards.
Things have, however, since changed, and assessment is now a practical and an essential tool to facilitate and support effective teaching and learning.
To this effect, every education provider and facilitator must know how, when and where to apply each assessment method in order to achieve best results for the learner.
Each assessment type must be approached with time-tested and effective strategies.
The Assessment for Learning: This comes in two parts, respectively called the diagnostic assessment and the formative assessment.
The diagnostic assessment is done prior to commencement of the actual lesson, to confirm what the student already knows about the topic, identify and diffuse any previous misconceptions on the topic, note the psychological and mental disposition of the students, and generally be able to identify the take-off point for delivering the topic, as well as mode of delivery.
The formative assessment comes in the form of interjections, which run throughout the entire period of taking the topic. It is an ungraded assessment that enables both teacher and learner to know how much learning is actually going on in the classroom.
With this assessment, teacher confirms to himself if indeed learning is going on. It is therefore, more or less, a process by which the teacher ascertains the effectiveness of his own teaching style or method, to determine what changes or adjustments, if any, he should make.
The teacher uses the students’ learning skills, abilities and understanding to determine if he needs to change, adjust or continue with his chosen lesson contents and delivery method or approach.
The assessment for learning constantly goes on during the course of delivering the lesson, at the end of the lesson, weekly, or as often as the teacher or the school authorities believe it to be necessary.
Both types of assessment for learning, especially the formative assessment, are essential because, they 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 both the teacher and learner are pre-warned of any lack of or deficiency in learning, and have the timely notice and opportunity to resolve these before any grading assessment.
The Assessment of Learning: This assessment is done in longer intervals – possibly every ten weeks, or at the end of each school term. It is a grading assessment.
With this assessment, the teacher uses evidence (students’ performances) to confirm achievements based on the set learning objectives and output standards.
The assessment of learning serves to determine how well a student has assimilated and the lessons for the period being assessed, in comparison to the last results of his previous assessment, his peers, or more importantly, in comparison to the stipulated standard expectations set by the school or education system.
This assessment grades the students, and determines each student’s qualification or preparedness (on not) to move on to the next educational level.
Question during an assessment of learning must target to establish or confirm that the student has a full grasp of at least eighty percent of all of the topics taught during the learning period.
The Assessment as Learning: This is an assessment as learning occurs, and is a self-assessment by which the student monitors his own learning, by asking questions, setting assignments for himself, and applying certain other strategies to know how much of the topic he has grasped, what he can or cannot do per that topic.
To make the most of this assessment process, a teacher has a duty to actively guide the student, especially the much younger ones.
Education facilitators must remember that assessments are primarily a part of the teaching and learning process, and not merely a summary for learning, and therefore, should utilise assessments for their most constructive purposes, which is, to ensure that learning goes on.