Enabling Learning and Assessment


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In this assignment I will be analysing the purpose of assessment, I will discuss the role of assessment in evaluation, quality processes, the implications of equality and diversity in assessment.
Assessment is one of the most significant areas of an educational system. It defines what students take to be important, how they spend much of their academic time and in many ways how they value themselves. As a teacher it is important to assess the students to see what they have understood and where their weaknesses are, assessments also aid the teacher to determine how successful their lesson planning was and to ensure that students make the expected progress.
???In the right hands, assessment can inspire, motivate and provide the feedback which is essential for targeting prompt corrective help. But it can also lead us to ignore what cannot easily be measured.???
There are many purposes of assessment. The first one being ???diagnosis??™ it is used to diagnose the level of learning that has been achieved by the learners, and is generally used at the beginning of a course for the teacher to determine the level at which they should be aiming their teaching. Teachers may use diagnostic assessment at the end of a lecture, or after a few lectures, to see if students have understood the information conveyed, and students appear to like this, as it is a way for them to keep a track on their learning.
???Diagnostic assessment identifies and assesses learner??™s capabilities in order to inform the structure of the programme or scheme of work; they will also identify learning needs and therefore the support needed to ensure progress. Assessments include Learner needs analysis, preferred learning styles, Initial screening, Prior learning and Skills test.???

Another purpose of assessment is ???Guidance??™. After assessing a learner the teacher can identify where help is needed and guide the student in their learning, at the same time it is important for the teacher to reassure them as well. What I do to guide my learners is to have tutorials with them after they have been assessed this gives me the opportunity to guide them.
Evaluating is another purpose as it helps to mend and modify teaching strategies as well as measure the extent of the success of learning and teaching.
???Evaluation of the assessment is about judging the extent to which the assessment does what it is supposed to do.???
Assessment helps grade students and assesses the quality of work according to the standards required. Also by evaluating assessment you can always improve and develop your own teaching by doing things differently the second time round. And the best way to do this is follow Kolb??™s Teaching/Training cycle (see Appendix 1).
Assessing my learners prior to a course helps me to recommend an appropriate course that they are capable of doing. That is why ???selection??™ is another purpose of assessment, assessing them throughout the year will lead to higher levels of study which they are suited to. In our institute we assess students throughout the year and if necessary a support session is embedded within their timetable to allow them to improve their understanding of the subject they may be struggling in and allows them to progress in their other subjects.
There are many different methods of assessment, one of which is formal assessment which is carried out in the form of exams, assessments and case studies (See Appendix 2). It is all work which the learner know they have to complete in order to pass their course. I believe that formal assessment is good because the student has prior awareness of them so they have time to work towards making sure their performance is of a high standard.
A downfall of formal assessment is that certain students can??™t take the pressure and fail to perform to their maximum potential due to stress. I have previously taught a student whose work within the classroom was of a very high standard, their homework was always completed to high quality but when it came to exams he crumbled under the pressure thus failing to perform to the standard which he is capable of achieving, and this would always affect his self-confidence.
Informal assessment can be carried out in many ways which students tend to really enjoy compared to formal assessing. A teacher should always be assessing the learners through games, question and answers, observations and debates. The learners enjoy the learning as well as gain an understanding of the subject and it gives the teacher an opportunity to assess them. I find informal assessment plays a big role in predicting student??™s grades as well as making sure they are working towards achieving higher grades. Students aren??™t always aware of being assessed in this manner so it helps a teacher to see the level a student is performing at when they are at ease and not nervous. I have seen a difference in some of my student??™s performance when they sit formal assessments and when they have informal assessments. One student performed at a grade A in classroom assessments and his work was consistent. When exam time came he got extremely nervous and stressed out and his results turned out to be that of a grade B.
Formative assessment is carried out throughout the year, it is very important as it lets the learners know of their progress. As Willson says,
???This type of assessment is very motivational because it is seen as a review rather than an assessment.???
Two top-flight professors at Kings College London carried out a review of research on formative assessment. Black and Wiliam (1998) found that the most effective formative strategies could add the equivalent of up to two grades to a student??™s achievement, and it had the greatest effect on the weakest learners. (Petty.G.2009:480)
Therefore formative assessment has many advantages but one of the disadvantages is that it can be continuous assessment may feel like continual assessment. So it is important that you follow Kolb??™s learning cycle as it advocates the concept of formative assessment and feedback within the cycle (see Appendix 3). It is helpful to me as a teacher as it provides information to help me adapt my lessons to suit my learner??™s needs. Sometimes I plan on spending a certain amount of time on a subject beforehand and when we??™ve covered it I realise the students need more time and lessons for it all to makes sense and apply their understanding to giving questions so I have had to adjust my lessons accordingly.
Summative assessment is carried out at the end of a course. It is a formal process and is usually carried out in the form of an exam, assignment or a piece coursework which will determine whether the student has passed the course or not. This does put enormous pressure on learners as the outcome may determine their future. In my lessons I embed past paper question so that they can acquaint themselves with the language used in exam questions, this gives them time to gain confidence for the actual exam. Because:-
???If the first time they see a past paper is in their mock or practice examination, their marks will be a big disappointment???.
I make the students sit a mock test under strict exam conditions half way into the year, and this works really well as they are applying their knowledge into effect now.
Initial assessment of each newly arrived pupil??™s learning helps teachers consider the pupil??™s specific needs and plan opportunities that will help remove any barriers to learning that they might have. Initial assessment is an essential part of effective admission procedures. At an interview the school might already have gathered general information about each pupil??™s language, ethnicity, previous educational experiences and achievements. During the admission process, schools could identify each new pupil??™s interests, expectations, experience of work and any other background information that might influence the progress of the pupils study.
???Carrying out initial assessment helps you plan appropriate sessions for your learners. You may use assessment to identify specific needs of learners and assessment should be an integral component of your teaching and lesson plans.???
There are many different methods you can use to gather this information (see Appendix 4). But the question you need to ask yourself is what information you want to extract about your learners which may aid you with your planning and learning.
Criterion referenced assessment is when a student is assessed against certain criteria relating to attitude, skill and knowledge. Deciding in advance what criteria have to be met for acceptability. Students will pass if they meet these e.g. the driving test, swimming badges and NVQs. In my lesson students are given a criteria list and specification overview for their speaking exam and the written exam (see Appendix 5/6/7), this gives them an insight of what is required of them through the course. I take them through this criteria list at the beginning of the course to insure all the students understand what is required from them, as it is pointless giving them a criteria list and them not understanding it.
Ipsative assessment is relatively new in assessment concepts. It is when the individual learner monitors, identifies and evaluates their own learning. This is a less formal approach but is growing in use e.g. records of achievement for which students themselves collect evidence of achievements both in and out of school / college. As part of this they write their evaluations of their own learning experiences, e.g. personal development journal. This allows students to be reflective about their own experiences and build a profile of their achievements which they can always refer back to.
Peer and self-assessment are both forms of assessing that support the learning process. Self-assessment is when a student will assess and evaluate his/her own work. Peer assessment is when students assess each other??™s work. I feel that students should be given a clear understanding of what they should be looking for in each other??™s work before they are asked to assess others work. And if used well, in my opinion it is the most effective form of assessment.
Research reviews such as Black and William??™s show that the advantages of self-and peer assessment are considerable, especially when the learner must use what they have learnt to plan action for improvement. (Petty.G.2009:491)
The learning from experience cycle devised by Kolb (1984) places heavy emphasis on self-assessment, as does Boud (1995) he expresses his belief that learning and development will not occur without self-assessment and reflection.
Paul Black and Dylan William point out that if formative assessment is to be productive, pupils should be trained in self-assessment so that they can understand the main purpose of their learning and thereby grasp what they need to do to achieve. (Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards Through Classroom Assessment)
Writing this essay has given me a great insight into my methods of assessing learners and what my strengths are as a teacher and most importantly what weaknesses I have. I have noticed a difference in the classroom and the attitude of the learners when formally assessing them after I started to put into practise some of the theory I have learnt, and I will do things better now. I feel I still need to develop the manner in which I assess my learners and try to make it more enjoyable rather than just another test, so I will try different methods and evaluate the effectiveness of them. The evaluations were very beneficial as they also helped me to reflect on my teaching and through the knowledge that I developed I was able to modify my teaching skills. The evaluations from my learners was very interesting and also useful as it helped me gain an insight in my skills as a teacher and areas of development in areas which I wasn??™t always aware of. I don??™t want ALL my learners to feel unhappy when assessing them but happy and settled in the classroom so that they can benefit from their learning to the maximum; therefore hopefully from my continuous practice in improving the different methods of assessments used in my classroom I can work on my weaknesses as a teacher and improve on them.

Gravells, A. (2011) Principles and Practice of Assessment in the Lifelong Learning Sector, 2nd Edition, Learning Matters LTD, Exeter
Petty, G. (2009) Teaching Today: A Practical Guide, 4th Edition, Nelson Thornes Ltd, United Kingdom
Wilson, L. (2009) Practical Teaching: A Guide to PTTLS & DTTLS, Bath, UK, Melody Dawes

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