Way back when I was in my undergraduate years, I had this subject that I struggled with. Every time that we have a test on that subject, I always asked myself and questioned the idea of why are we given a test at the end of the lesson or unit. In fact, it was one of my childish wishes that if possible all of those tests or exams would eventually be eradicated in every school. For me, these thoughts are somewhat funny and ridiculous as I reflect upon on the lessons that I’ve learned this week. I’d realized that I really had a very wrong attitude towards assessment when I was in college and even until now. My understanding on why everyone should undergo any type of assessments indicates that I had a poor conception on what assessment is about. In addition, I was blinded on how the tests overwhelm me and become less appreciative with its importance. Asking the question again of what is really an assessment? Why we need to be assessed? What are the underlying principles to make the assessment be good and effective? And how does assessment facilitate in improving the teaching process and the learning experience of a student? Are questions that resonate in my head this week and had been clarified and substantiated.
Assessment – what does it mean?
It is a policy in my school where I am working right now that our immediate supervisors (e.g. principal and academic quality manager) would assess our performance as a teacher. We need to undergo at least three different assessment in a year to determine how do we perform inside our classes. These assessments were administered to strike the balance between the quality of our teaching and instruction in class. This is one of the many types of assessments that I underwent after leaving the four corners of the classroom. In analogy, this is the same with the assessment that was administered in school or inside the classroom. The Vanderbilt University assessment website define extensively what assessment is all about in the context of educational assessment. As defined, it is the ongoing process of establishing clear, measurable, expected outcomes that demonstrate institutional effectiveness and implementing programs and practices designed to achieve those outcomes; it is also the systematic gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well programs and practices are working at meeting their expected outcomes; and using the resulting information to understand and improve institutional effectiveness. In short, Assessment is a mechanism for providing instructors with data for improving their teaching methods and for guiding and motivating students to be actively involved in their own learning. As such, assessment provides important feedback to both instructors and students.
The need of Assessment
We already define what is an assessment. Now, why is it that we need to have an assessment? Victoria state government, discuss on their website the importance of assessment. As mentioned, Assessment is to improve student learning and deep understanding of a particular lesson, and this requires a range of assessment practices to be used with three overarching purposes,
- Assessment FOR learning – occurs when teachers use inferences
about student progress to inform their teaching
- Assessment AS learning – occurs when students reflect on and
monitor their progress to inform their future learning goals
- Assessment OF learning – occurs when teachers use evidence of
student learning to make judgments on student achievement
against goals and standards.
Hence, Assessment is extensively an indispensable tool to aid the process of learning and one cannot discard or overlooked its importance.
For us teachers, we need to take into consideration that every time that we prepare our lessons we need to account how should we assess our students if they really learned the content of our materials. But, we need to remember that our assessment should be effective for our students to learn in the most effective and optimum way. Now, let’s consider the underlying principles that we need to consider in making our assessment effective. One is the “Alignment” of our assessment. Secondly is the how “Rigor” is our assessment and lastly is the “construction of our test”.
Alignment is the extent to which the assessment aligns with the curriculum as expressed in the curriculum map. This is crucial or critical for selecting or developing an assessment. Because this is where we identify the key content you want to assess your students. In line with this, our assessment needs to be congruent to the learning outcomes of a particular lesson. Assessment should be in the context of the lesson and would maximize the learner’s learning experience. It should not overwhelm them, hence it motivates them to learn more. The second principle is Rigor. Rigor is the level of cognitive complexity of the item or of a set of items of that assessment material. In short, it’s taking into consideration the level of difficulty of the question you give to your students. With the help of Bloom’s Taxonomy, we can categorize the type of questioning to be included in our assessment as to how rigor it is. In fact, it was estimated that 90% of all test questions asked in the US are of “Low level” – knowledge and comprehension (Wilen, W.W., 1992). To ensure that alignment and rigor are implemented properly, we need to document our assessment. The use of “Table of test Specification” is the key for this documentation. This is a two-way chart that relates the learning outcomes to the course content. It enables the teacher to prepare a test containing a representative sample of student behavior in each of the areas tested. Lastly, test construction should be taken into consideration when we assess our students. According to World Watch – the Philadelphia trumpet, 13% of students who got low grades in exams are caused by faulty test questions. We teachers should be mindful of the construction of our test. By understanding the different parts of a selected response and the art of questioning, one can make a good test. Let us remember that a good test should be reliable, valid and item quality.
Implication of Assessment in Learning
We know for a fact that the sole purpose of assessment is to make a lasting and meaningful learning experience. The assessment was not invented just to test how to recall facts. It is should give an impact to our students that would make their learning worthwhile. It is imperative for us teachers to remember that better assessment would lead to better teaching practices, with that better teaching practices will result in better learning and greater confidence to our students. As consequences, it will result in a better students’ outcome. And that will provide better life opportunities for our student and everyone around us. Jesus Ochave Ph.D., VP of Research Planning & Development of the Philippine Normal University once said, “A good lesson makes a good question, A good question makes a good content A good content makes a good test, A good test makes a good grade, A good grade makes a good student, A good student makes a good COMMUNITY. That should be our ultimate goal as teachers, to make our community a better place to live and thrive.
1. Vanderbilt University Assessment Website
http://virg.vanderbilt.edu/AssessmentPlans/About.aspx#what is assessment?