Formative Assessment; a tool for effective Teaching-Learning experience

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          Just recently we had a school Professional Development (PD) activity conducted by our Academic Quality Manager (AQM) – a person who check the progress of our program and evaluate our teaching practices.  That PD session emphasized the importance of Formative Assessment inside our classrooms, its implication to the learning and teaching experience for both students and teacher, and how can we maximize it inside our class. It is timely, that the PD session we had is parallel to what I have been learned and were discussed this week. Reflecting on what we had during that day and putting these all together in the context of the various types of assessments, it gives me a better understand of how assessment facilitate students to learn effectively as they progress with their learning experience.

Various Types of Assessments

               Going deeper on what is assessment, it introduced us to four major categories of assessment. Where various assessment tools have been created to facilitate effective practices and implementations inside the class. These four assessments are the formal, informal, summative also known as assessment OF learning, and the formative assessment which is also known as assessment FOR learning. Allow me to elaborate and give you and overview of what are the characteristics of these four assessment mentioned here.

1. Formal Assessment

         As what the name entails, this is a type of assessment that makes used of a standardized method of testing. It is a systematic way of evaluating how well the students are progressing in a particular instructional program or course. It assessed the students on how well they have learned the theme skills and concepts of the course. This is a data-driven assessment, where percentiles, stanines or standard scores are most commonly given to indicate students’ progress. The scores here support the conclusion of students’ ability with the entire course or program and it compares their performance with others of their age or grade. (e.g. student reading ability is below average for his age). Examples of this kind of assessment are, formal oral test, long-and-short Answer tests, Multiple choice questions, problem-solving or free-response test styles, and observational assessments and monitoring.

2. Informal Assessment

         If a formal assessment is data-driven, the informal is more on a performance-driven type of assessment. This assessment allows students to showcase their present understanding of the concepts through either structured or unstructured activities. Such activities are, for Structured: Structured interviews, miscue analysis, rating scales, questionnaires, checklists, cloze test, and criterion-reference tests. For unstructured we have: journals, games, debates, brainstorming, storytelling, anecdotal, homework and writing samples.  With this type of assessment, we allow our students to freely commit mistakes for these are parts of their learning experience. Through various informal assessment techniques, either it’s structured or unstructured students can develop, enhance or improve not just their cognitive skills, but also their psychomotor and affective skills.

 3. Summative Assessment

         This assessment means to gauge at a particular point in time the students learning relative to content standards. It can either be standardized test such as state assessment or can either be used as the district and classroom program assessment. In this assessment, it fosters the spirit of accountability towards student’s learning as a whole. Incorporating the sense of responsibility to know by heart the competencies and skills that they need to acquire along the learning process; for they know that these skills will be evaluated at the end of the term or grading period. Also, students learn how to push themselves when needed to acquire deeper understanding and knowledge of the content in such a way that they strive in a high-stake assessment that determines their possible placement and promotion in the next level of their academic endeavors.  Their cognitive skills have high value in this assessment, thus students maximized their learning through memorization or mastery of the content. An example of this assessment is, end-of-unit tests or chapter test, end-of-term or semesters exams, Advanced Placement Exam, or any standardized exam given by educational agency or government.

 4. Formative Assessment

         This type of an assessment refers to the interpretations of data to be used for improving instruction and learning. The measures were interwoven with the instruction and being use for making instructional decisions during the course of instruction. It is a process used by teachers and students during instruction that provides feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve student’s achievement of intended instructional outcomes (Popham, 2008, p.5). During the process, students are involved in identifying the specific content they must improve on and things they might do to improve. On the other hand, the teacher should determine behavior change and identify content that must be reviewed or retaught. Such as, after scoring the practice quiz with students, the teacher realizes that he needs to review some vocabulary about the topic that he thought students already new. Thus, it is used to determine which approach to teaching should be retained that is producing satisfactory results, which instruction should be revised to improve its effectiveness, and what instructional component that should be abandoned because it’s ineffective.

                  In short, it is a planned process and not just a test in which teachers or students use evidence to determine the degree to which a particular student has mastered a particular skill or body of knowledge. In that way, teacher and students can adjust what they are currently doing with the help of a number of different activities. Formative assessment can be implemented inside the classroom in three different ways. It can either be obtrusive where instruction stop when students take the assessment. Unobtrusive, where there is no interruption of the flow of instruction. And lastly, student-generated where students generate ideas to demonstrate their current status of their understanding on a given topic. (Popham, 2008, p.6). Some popular types of formative assessment tools are exit slips, graphic organizer, self and peer-assessment activity, and think-pair-share.

 
Formative assessment – Tool for effective instruction

            A lot of educational literature have been written to emphasize the great importance and impact of formative assessment inside the classroom. In the article entitled, “Formative and Summative Assessment in the classroom” by C. Garrison and M. Ehringhaus, emphasized the effectiveness of formative assessment in Middle Schools. However, to make this assessment become effective educators or teachers should consider important instructional strategies as both students and teachers take this process. According to them, there are five important key components of this. And these are,

i. Criteria and goal setting

It has a positive impact on the success of student if they understand and know the learning target and the criteria for reaching that goal. Through the use of student works or exemplars of what is expected from them will help students understand where they are, where they need to be and determine an effective process to get there.

ii. Observation

Through keen observation, by looking into if the students are on task or need clarification during instructional activities will assist the teacher in gathering evidence of student learning to inform instructional planning. This evidence can be used as feedback and may be recorded to serve as an anecdotal data that can be used for parent-teacher or student-teacher conference.

iii. Questioning strategy

Creating and asking better questions that elicit higher-thinking skills can give a significant insight into the degree and depth of understanding of the student. These types of questions should lead the way for the students to engage in meaningful discussions that uncover and expand learning. Open-ended questions are a type of questions that best fit this. Moreover, helping students ask better questions is another aspect of maximizing this instructional activity.

iv. Incorporating Self and Peer Assessment

Through the involvement of students in the assessment process,  it creates a learning community within the classroom. To make formative assessment be effective in its practice, students need to be involved in the assessment process as both assessors of their own learning and as resources to other students. Involving the student in the process of assessment has a positive result on their motivation to learn and as go further with the ladder of the learning. Peer evaluation would see each student as resources for understanding and check for excellent result or work against previously established criteria.

v. Student record keeping

From the data and evidence that you and your student have; it can either be in any form (e.g. portfolio, test result), will help students better understand their own learning as evidence of their classroom work. Through reflection of their work and seeing grade beyond its value will help them to see where they started and the progress they are making towards learning goal.

           But the question is, how can we check our formative assessment if it has been implemented effectively and religiously on a day to day basis? Moss, C. M., and Brookhart, S. M. provide as three important central questions to ask along the process of formative assessment. The following were mentioned in the article they wrote entitled, “Advancing Formative Assessment in Every Classroom”. Such questions are: Where am I going? Where am I now? And what strategy or strategies can help me get where I need to go. These questions guide everything that the teacher is doing or will do, everything that student does and everything that both teacher and students are going to do together. For teachers, these three central questions support and assist in recognizing and making use of formative assessment extensively inside the classroom. These will guide them in planning the lesson, monitor the teaching practices and helping the students to become self-regulated learners.

        More than this, Formative assessment can be employed in either  “formal-formative” or “informal-formative” way, depending on the purpose we want to achieve inside our classroom as Shermis (2011) describes it. If our assessment involves deliberate and planned the gathering of information, and interpreting this information in terms of goals to be achieved, and acting upon the information by restructuring instruction, curriculum, or other characteristics of the system then we make use the former. On contrary if we want to elicit information about the ongoing behavior, the level of student achievement related to goal performance at various points of instruction, and interpreting this information in terms of understanding gaps between the goal and current status and using this for repair of instruction; like remediation or reinforcement of some feature of instruction and learning at the time of observation then making use of the latter is viable.

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Unspoken words

          Going back to the PD activity that we have, our AQM emphasizes two important points there. One is our sensitivity as an educational practitioner to see what is really happening inside the head of our students through their unspoken communication. We need to understand how to sense our students if they are really progressing towards their learning as we undertake various instructional activities. Informal assessment has the main role in achieving this initially.  Thus, through observation, it’s very important for us to learn and understand the facial expressions, body movements, and posture, gestures, eye-contact, space and voice of our students as they interact with us inside the classroom. Second, improving our communication skill by making use of the art of good questioning that elicits deep thinking. Not just that, these questions should open an avenue for interactions through dialogues and healthy discourse. He further emphasizes that our formative assessment should serve as a bridge between teaching and learning.

 The impact of assessment on teacher and student

         Educational researchers have a firm body of evidence that formative assessment works well inside the classroom. According to Black and William (1998), it is an essential component of a classroom and that its development can raise standards of achievement. It works because it has a direct effect on both teacher and student. Furthermore, by studying the effectiveness of the instructional decisions, teacher learn about effective teaching and that would result in teachers’ quality. It promotes professional learning that is relevant, authentic and transformational for teachers.  Armed with the new perspective, teachers can take constructive action in their classrooms. By collecting and using evidence that works and exactly what does not inside the classroom; critically examining their own knowledge, working assumptions and practices teachers become aware of exactly where they need to focus their change and improvement efforts in order to raise student achievement.

          Moreover, employing this type of assessment will inform students their own understanding when timely adjustment can be made. It fosters higher order thinking skills or deeper thinking as student reflect positively on their progress of learning. Through formative assessment, students can be guided and comprehend where they are going, where they need to be and to know the effective process of getting there in their learning ladder. It allows students to express their thoughts through dialogue, writing, and any form of instructional activities that uncover and expand their learning. In the process, peer and self-assessment are being utilized and has a great role in seeing each learner as a source of understanding and checking for what are the excellent work against the previously established goals. As a result, students will have self-confidence, growth mindset and develop a metacognitive attitude towards learning. In conclusion, the more we know about individual students as they engage in the learning process, the better we can adjust our instruction to ensure that all students continue to achieve by moving forward in their learning.


References:

[1] Formal vs. Informal Assessment. Weaver, Brenda. Retrieved from 
https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/formal-vs-informal-assessments/

[2] Types of Formal Assessment in Education. Stuart, James. Retrieved from
http://classroom.synonym.com/types-formal-assessments-education-4208.html

[3] Informal Methods of Assessment. G. S. Morrison.Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall.Jul 15, 2013. Retrieved from https://www.education.com/reference/article/informal-methods-assessment/

[4] Informal Assessment in Education Evaluation: Implications for Bilingual Education Program. Navarete, C. et al.
NCBE Program Information guide.1990.3 Retrieved from http://www.ncela.us/files/rcd/BE017505/PIG3.pdf

[5] Informal Assessment: the Basics. Forlizzi, L. A.Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.2014. Retrieved from http://aded.tiu11.org/disted/FamLitAdminSite/fn04assessinformal.pdf   

[6] Formative Assessment and Standards-Based Grading. Marzano, R.J. Marzano Research Laboratory. Retrieved from http://pepstep571.wikispaces.com/file/view/Marzano+Formative+Assessment.pdf

[7] Garrison, C., Ehringhaus, M. Formative and Summative Assessments in the Classroom. Measured Progress. New Hampshire. Retrieved from http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/33148188-6FB5-4593-A8DF 8EAB8CA002AA/0/2010_11_Formative_Summative_Assessment.pdf

 

Purpose of Assessment

                     Gauging the quality of our teaching practice and the learning experience of our students inside our classroom is a way of determining how effective and good are we to our students. To do that we use assessments as a tool to craft, modify, explore possibilities and improve our teaching practices so that it suits the needs of our students. However, due to the overwhelming demand of our responsibilities being a teacher we sometimes overlook the importance of it and forget the basics of why we do an assessment, how should we do it and how can we improve it further. A mere neglect of it has a direct consequence in our teaching practice and on how we become an effective teacher. Thus, allow me to provide answers to these questions and guide us back again to the principles of effective assessment. I believe literacy on assessment and having a deep understanding of it will give us an opportunity to be great in our vocation.

 Three Purposes of Assessment

                        Doing assessment without purpose is like chasing the wind. It’s pointless and meaningless. Our human nature stretch us to do something beyond our capacity because we want to fulfill our purpose. Same with assessment, we do this and implement it in our classroom because we want to achieve its sole purpose. That is to improve teaching-learning experience with our students inside and outside our classroom. An assessment expert named Dr. Lorna Earl, in her book “Rethinking Classroom Assessment with Purpose in Mind” argued that there are three important aspects why we do an assessment. According to her, we do assessment because we use it FOR learning, AS learning and OF learning. Now, let’s define these, one by one and determine the underlying principles that we consider as we implement these assessments? Starting with Assessment FOR learning. Assessment experts and most educators call this as FORMATIVE assessment. It is an assessment to measure how much the student have learned with the content, what can they do with what they’ve learned, be able to determine their confusions, bridging any gaps of learning, and keep track of the progress they are making with the course or lesson. This assessment is used to understand what students are thinking with the materials and instructions that were given so that teachers are able to have a good decision on what should be going to do next with their instruction. During the process of this assessment, teachers provide descriptive feedback and coaching for improvement to their student. Note that assessment FOR learning occurs throughout the learning process. Therefore, teachers should remember always to align instruction with the learning outcomes or goals set for the course. During the process, teachers identify particularly the learning needs of students or groups, and by that, we select and adapt materials and resources to suit the needs of a student. As a consequence, differentiated teaching strategies and learning opportunities are created in helping individual students to move forward in their learning experience. We need to take into consideration during this process that we should always give immediate feedback and direction for our students to help them improve their learning progress. In doing this, we can modify the instruction and more of what should be done in class to achieve the learning outcome. As a result, this benefits the students where it enhances the motivation and commitment to learning. For us teachers, we uncover what students believe to be true and to learn more about the connections students are making, their prior knowledge, preconceptions, gaps, and learning styles. In getting a clear picture of how the students are thinking and what it is that they understand or find confusing will serve as our foundation in improving our classroom instructions and teaching practices.

                         However, assessment AS learning focusses on students and emphasizes assessment as a process of metacognition. Metacognition is the awareness of their own thinking and learning. It is an active process of cognitive restructuring that occurs when individuals interact with new ideas. In this assessment, students are the critical connectors between assessment and learning. Making sure students are actively engaged in creating their own understanding, by helping them to learn to be critical assessors who make sense of information, relate it to prior knowledge, and use it for new learning. During assessment AS learning, teachers will guide students by designing instructions and assessment that allows all students to think about, and monitor their own learning. Helping them to become adept at personally monitoring what they are learning, and use what they discover from the monitoring to make adjustments, adaptations, and even major changes in their thinking. Teachers should focus on the explicit fostering of students’ capacity over time to be their own best assessors in order to acquire the skills and the habits of mind to be metacognitively aware with increasing independence. To achieve this, teachers need to start by presenting and modeling external, structured opportunities for students to assess themselves by providing exemplars and models of good practice and quality work that reflect curriculum outcomes. Also, providing descriptive feedback is necessary for this assessment to monitor students’ metacognitive processes as well as their learning. Teachers have the responsibility of creating environments in which students can become confident, competent self-assessors by providing emotional security and genuine opportunities for involvement, independence, and responsibility. The benefits of this are that students are capable of becoming adaptable, flexible, and independent in their learning and decision-making. They will be reflective in their own learning and make adjustments so that they achieve deeper understanding.

                       On the other hand, assessment OF learning is more on evaluated in nature. Assessment experts consider this as Summative Assessment. It is used for certification and accreditation of performance of the student, the course or program, and even the school. It is a summary of each students’ level of accomplishment or what they’ve achieved during the term, semester, grading period, unit or chapter. This will serve as the foundation for discussions on the placement of the student or promotion and reporting to the parents. During the process, teachers should provide a rationale for undertaking a particular assessment of learning at a particular point in time, clear descriptions of the intended learning, processes that make it possible for students to demonstrate their competence and skill, a range of alternative mechanisms for assessing the same outcomes, public and defensible reference points for making judgements, transparent approaches to interpretation, descriptions of the assessment process and strategies for recourse in the event of disagreement about the decisions. As a result, students can look forward to the assessment of learning tasks as occasions to show their competence, as well as the depth and breadth of their learning. In doing these three purposes of assessment, we gather evidence to evaluate the performance of our students, improve our teaching practice, and determine the outcome of our program. We need to underscore that they are interrelated and connected to one another as we do our teaching practice. Thus, all of these are essential and beneficial for us teachers and to our students in our teaching practice.

Designing Assessment

                    Success in implementing these three approaches of assessment underlies in our planning. It is important to take into consideration all the possible factors that would affect the quality of the evidence we gathered. There are five questions that we teachers should ask as we plan and design our assessment as discussed by Dr. Earl. These are: Why am I assessing? What am I assessing? What assessment method should I use? How can I ensure quality in this assessment process? And How can I use the information from this assessment? On the same book, “Rethinking classroom Assessment with Purpose in mind” Dr. Earl provides us an elaborated summary on what should we consider when we answer these questions with respect to three purposes of assessment. The table below is the summary of Planning Assessment taken from the same book “Rethinking Classroom Assessment with Purpose in Mind.

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 Improving Classroom Assessment

                          None of these assessments that will be implemented in our classroom are perfect. We always welcome rooms for improvement to master our craft. With that, we always take into consideration the quality of our Assessment. Dr. Earl emphasized that the quality of our assessment is a function of reliability, reference points, validity and record keeping. These four factors are important criteria to ensure that our assessment is consistent and meaningful. We make sure that we are sure with our assessment. Also, we use a reference point to ground our judgment. Verifying how our assessment represent the idea or concept learned is important for validity. And the record keeping should not be taken for granted because the grades and symbols used are a representation of what the child is learning. Assessment is a complex process that needs professional knowledge and skills. It needs leadership, support, and collaboration.  Good teacher and those who are effective in their practice are having a reflective behavior on what they are doing. Thus, it is very important for us to reflect these questions in taking into consideration how we improve our assessment in our classroom.  These are: what can I do to improve my classroom assessment practice? What do I need in order to do this? Where can I get what, I need? Whose help do I need to engage? How will I know that I improved? Answering these reflective questions create a growing mindset and attitude to always improve our teaching for excellence.


References:

[1] Earl, L. & Katz, S. (2006). Section 2: Three Purposes of Assessment.

[2] Goldner, S. (2014). Purposes of Classroom Assessment. [YouTube video].

[3] GECDSB AER
. (2011). Assessment FOR, AS, & OF Learning. [YouTubevideo].

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.

 

Reference:

[1] What is Assessment. Academics, Accreditation, and Assessment. Westminster College. Retrieved at http://www.westminster.edu/academics/accreditation assessment/definition.cfm

[2] Top 10 Evidence-Based Teaching Strategies for Those Who Care About Student Results. Shaun Killian. Retrieved at http://www.evidencebasedteaching.org.au/evidence-based-teaching-strategies/#footnote_1_752

[3] Writing Intended Learning outcome. Center for Teaching Excellence. The University of Waterloo. Retrieved at https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/planning-courses/course-design/writing-learning-outcomes

[4] Using a range of assessment methods. Assessment Online. Ministry of Education of New Zealand. Retrieved at http://assessment.tki.org.nz/Using-evidence-for-learning/Gathering-evidence/Topics/Assessment-methods

Assessment Framework – “Evidence” for Learning

 

               Determining how much learning experience our student has received during their interaction in our class is an essential part of our teaching practice. We gauge the effectiveness of our teaching strategies based on these evidence we gather from them. Most of this evidence are being used to evaluate our students’ performance, our teaching approaches and the undertakings we made for the program or school. With the aid of this evidence, we know how to identify the problem, modify the approaches in our teaching, improve the system and classify the type of our students who are strong and that needs to be nurtured. With that, the evidence is mainly used to enhance teaching and learning.

Types of Evidence

       Mainly, there are two types of Evidence, one is Quantitative and the other is Qualitative. Quantitative evidence is all about students’ achievement. An example of these are, national assessment results, data from learning conversations and student self and peer assessment, standardized assessment results such as SAT, in-school assessments, data from previous schools, student work – work completion rates and patterns, workbooks, notes, drafts of material, and portfolios of work. Other than that, included with this also is the student attendance data, student retention data, and student engagement data. [1] On the other hand, Qualitative evidence includes data that provides a profile of the school, about what students, staff, parents and the community think about the school. Also, it includes evidence about how the school is organized and operates. It is imperative for us teachers that we need to be aware of this factor that describes students’ wider learning environment. One should consider these factors as we interpret our actions as to how we improve the learning experience of our student.

Considerable factor in assessment

             Most teachers judge best the ability of their students on how they learn based on the quantitative evidence gathered. However, we need to point out that effective and good teachers are reflective in their assessment results. We need to emphasize that there are many factors that we need to consider as we interpret our evidence. One thing that we need to consider is the demographic factor of our school and learners. An example of this is what type of students do we have. Knowing our kids is necessary when we undertake our responsibility as teachers. It’s like knowing our customer in the business parlance. There are certain students in our class that timid and less performing due to the fact that the socio-economic factor is challenging them. Some of them don’t eat their breakfast because they don’t have enough money to buy and yet they still come to school. Others need to go to work during the night in order to earn a living to sustain their studies. This and more we need to consider in out teaching. In short, effective teachers are considerate and understanding.

                 On the administrative side, it’s important to note that the qualification of our staff and personnel is crucial to the learning experience of our students. Staff who are experienced and well-trained are great factors in the growth of our students. Moreover, how the community perceives the program or the school also create a different mindset as to what kind of standard the school is offering for the learning of our students. The resources such as textbook, smartboard, the internet and the classes that are being offered is another considerable factor in the learning outcomes of our students.
We educators should be dynamic enough to know important factors on how our students learn and how to maximize the opportunity for the student to learn.

Bridging the Gap

       Margaret Heritage, in her lecture on “Formative Assessment for Middle school: Gathering and Analyzing evidence” mentioned that evidence purpose is to bridge the gap of learning. During the learning process, students have their current learning status. Teachers responsibility is to bring the mindset of our students to the desirable outcome or learning goal of our lesson. Through instruction and feedback, we can close the gap between the students’ current learning status and the desirable learning goals. One should note that in order to undertake this effort, we need to plan how we gather our evidence. It must be that our assessments are aligned with the success criteria we set. Our evidence should provide opportunities for all, and it is not confined to few chosen individuals. Allowing them to know their progress on their efforts as they move forward.

Reference:

[1] Types of Evidence. Assessment Online. Ministry of  Education of New Zealand. Retrieved at  http://assessment.tki.org.nz/Using-evidence-for- learning/Gathering-evidence/Topics/Types-of-evidence

Module 1: The Basics of Assessment – a take away lesson

assessment-1                   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,

  1. Assessment FOR learning – occurs when teachers use inferences
    about student progress to inform their teaching
  2. Assessment AS learning – occurs when students reflect on and
    monitor their progress to inform their future learning goals
  3. 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.

Effective Assessment

         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.

  

References:

1. Vanderbilt University Assessment Website
http://virg.vanderbilt.edu/AssessmentPlans/About.aspx#what is assessment?

2. http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/support/Pages/advice.aspx#purpose

3. http://www.salescoach.us/sales-success-insights-assessment/