Assessment Framework – Effective Assessment

An effective way of assessing learning is not the same with the tedious act of giving grades or simply marking the papers of our students. To make an assessment to be effective, teachers may assign grades however they focus more on the importance on how to improve student learning. In the process, effective teachers ponder upon on these questions while they interpret the data on the evidence. An example of these questions are: How many students were able to met the success criteria set to them? Should additional explanation or opportunity be given in class? Does the presentation of the material needs to modified and what modifications should be taken? These and many other reflective questions are being answered as they assess the learning of their students. In an effective assessment, it allows the teacher to monitor the student learning throughout the entirety of the course and provides the ability for the teacher to make necessary adjustments to improve learning. But, one should consider that an effective assessment has its components and these components are learner-centered in nature.

Learner-centered Assessment

         Westminster College discussed on their web page about the definition of assessment. [1] In that page, they presented important components of a learner-centered assessment.  There are four important components that a teacher should be regarded to make it effective. These are,

  1. Formulating Statements of Intended Learning Outcomes – statements describing intentions about what students should know, understand, and be able to do with their knowledge when they graduate or while they are still taking the course. [1] It is necessary that it is clear for our students what they should learn. A vivid lesson goals or learning outcome help the teacher and the students to focus every other aspect of the lesson on what matters most. [2]
  2. Developing or Selecting Assessment Measures – designing or selecting data gathering measures to assess whether or not our intended learning outcomes have been achieved. These includes,
    1. Direct assessments – which ask students to demonstrate what they know or can do with their knowledge. e.g. projects, products, papers/theses, exhibitions, performances, case studies, clinical evaluations, portfolios, interviews, and oral exams.
    2. Indirect assessments – in which respondents share their perceptions about what graduates know or can do with their knowledge. Self-report measures such as surveys are one example of this.
  3. Creating Experiences Leading to Outcomes – ensuring that students have experiences both in and outside their courses that help them achieve the intended learning outcomes. This would include your teaching strategies and approaches in transmitting the knowledge to the students.
  4. Discussing and Using Assessment Results to Improve Teaching and Learning – using the results to improve individual student performance. This involves the interaction of the students where they discuss, clarify, and reflect on their goals, strategies, and progress with their teachers, their parents, and one another. This develops students’ capacity for self- and peer assessment, which leads in turn to increased self-direction. Providing a timely and appropriate feedback is the key here.

The Cyclical Process

         To make the assessment effective, one should remember that it is a continuous process. It’s continuous because the process doesn’t stop in one particular stage however you can repeat it over and over again until you achieve the desired learning outcomes you want for your student to learn.  This process can be translated into four stages, this is Plan-Do-Check-Act. [1]

Stage 1: Plan

This is the stage where you are going to answer the question: What do I want students to learn? In this stage, we teachers formulate and write our learning outcomes. With the aid of Bloom’s Taxonomy, we can set the level of complexity and the specificity on what should be learning on the content of our lesson.

Stage 2: Do

We need to answer this question at this stage: How do I teach effectively? At this point, teachers will develop measures to determine the evidence of learning of our student. Learning activities must be designed to stimulate learning and to yield assessment data for the evaluation. We elicit evidence of learning into four ways,

i. By what student say: through questioning, discussion, explanation, peer-review (exchange of ideas) as to how our student can be determined.

ii. By what student write: this is by student written work from instructional tasks and prompted written response.

iii. By what student make: creating models, representations, diagrams, charts, organizers, webpage, technology, designing an experiments student exemplify their learning of a  particular subject.

iv. By what student do: manipulations in some web-based tools, responding to clickers and survey, role playing, drama, singing, activities involving physical strengths is an example on how we elicit learning by doing.

Stage 3: Check

We underscore this question as we take this process:  Are my outcomes being met?  This stage involves evaluation of assessment data. As we evaluate we check what areas in the learning process that need some improvement, modification, and improvement. Checking seeks to determine the extent to which students are achieving each outcome. Thus, a global measure of student success, such as a course grade, is not likely to provide sufficient assessment data. Effective course and program evaluation require that student performance on individual outcomes be reported as specifically as possible.

Stage 4: Act

Taking into consideration this question: How do I use what I’ve learned?  Will make this process be effective. In this stage, it involves reinforcing successful practices and making revisions to enhance student learning. An effective teacher always acts on the assessment results. In cases where students are not achieving the desired outcomes, an effective teacher makes adjustments, reinforcement, and revision. For those things that work, its stay; the things that don’t, it will go. We need to remember that action can be taken in the course or any program provided sufficient data have been gathered and checked.

When the above process is followed within an individual course, the assessment cycle is complete and able to repeat. Teachers can improve at each stage of the process, but the minimum requirements of assessment are being met and modifications (based on assessment data) can be made to improve student learning.By checking the progress, identifying the problem, and by determining what actions should be undertaken will serve as a basis for another subsequent planning to implement again the same process to improve the learning experience of our students. That makes the process repetitive and become cyclical.

Characteristic of Effective Assessment

The Ministry of Education of New Zealand elaborated key principles that teachers should take into consideration when determining and implementing assessments.  (from The New Zealand Curriculum 2007, p.40). And these are the following,

  1. Effective Assessment benefits students
    It clarifies for them what they know and can do and what they still need to learn. When students see that they are making progress, their motivation is sustained and their confidence increases.
  2. Effective Assessment involves students
    They discuss, clarify, and reflect on their goals, strategies, and progress with their teachers, their parents, and one another. This develops students’ capacity for self- and peer assessment, which leads in turn to increased self-direction.
  3. Effective Assessment supports teaching and learning goals
    Students understand the desired outcomes and the criteria for success. Important outcomes are emphasized, and the teacher gives feedback that helps the students to reach them.
  4. Effective Assessment is planned and communicated
    Outcomes, teaching strategies, and assessment criteria are carefully matched. Students know in advance how and why they are to be assessed. The teacher’s program planning is flexible so that they can make changes in response to new information, opportunities, or insights.
  5. Effective Assessment is suited to the purpose
    An evidence is obtained through a range of informal and formal assessment approaches. These approaches are chosen to suit the nature of the learning being assessed, the varied characteristics and experiences of the students, and the purpose for which the information is to be used.
  6. Effective Assessment is valid and fair
    Teachers obtain and interpret information from a range of sources and then base decisions on this evidence, using their professional judgment. Conclusions are most likely to be valid when the evidence for them comes from more than one assessment.



[1] What is Assessment. Academics, Accreditation, and Assessment. Westminster College. Retrieved at assessment/definition.cfm

[2] Top 10 Evidence-Based Teaching Strategies for Those Who Care About Student Results. Shaun Killian. Retrieved at

[3] Writing Intended Learning outcome. Center for Teaching Excellence. The University of Waterloo. Retrieved at

[4] Using a range of assessment methods. Assessment Online. Ministry of Education of New Zealand. Retrieved at


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