According to Harp (1996), assessment is the act of putting together data on the level of achievement of a learner whereas evaluation is the interpretation of that data based on the identified strengths with an aim of coming up with appropriate learning goals (p73). Assessment continuous throughout the life of a learner for it is the only way through which the learning objectives for the leaner can be evaluated and the progress quantified in an effort to provide a room for feedback that would aid improvement in performance. The assessment process can therefore be understood as an organized and cyclic process that measures the realization of what the academic program sets forth for the learners (Harp, 1996 p. 12).
Assessment process takes into account placement of tests, evaluating and measuring of the ability of the learners by use of both summative and on demand evaluative techniques. The process when effectively used helps in monitoring the learner’s progress and it is an important tool in predicting the best future options in the life of the student. For this reason the process is a significant ingredient in educational decision that affects the student today. It is therefore advisable to ensure that the aims of learning program are well matched to the assessing techniques to ensure that the needs of each learner are taken care of (McDaniel, 2009 p. 2).
The aim of testing
Testing is simply a way of measuring one’s knowledge, skills and understanding and in schools it is aimed at gauging a student progress and understanding of the new concepts that have been previously learnt. Another purpose of testing is to ascertain students’ learning needs so as to identify the best cause of action based on the results. This also helps teachers to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching techniques in relation to the students’ performance. In addition, not all learners qualify to be promoted to the next level in an education system and it’s only through a test that an educator can identify whether a learner has met the set objectives, goals and aims of one level before being promoted to the next.
On-demand and Cumulative Testing
There are generally two methods of assessment namely; on demand assessment and cumulative assessment. Both methods of assessment have several different testing methods. Examples of on demand assessment are Oral reports, multiple-choice and short written-response tests. Oral reports are used to test scientific understanding through communication by the student. This can be done daily during a lesson. Multiple choice and short written response tests are paper and pencil tests which accesses students’ acquisition of knowledge and concepts, these can be done on weekly basis.
Cumulative assessment on the other hand are long-term, require a large amount of time and planning to complete. It enlightens the learner and the teacher on the stage of learner’s achievement based and therefore any adjustment in approach can be effected accordingly. Examples of cumulative assessments are portfolios, investigative and extended projects. Portfolio tests assist students in the process of developing and reflecting on a purposeful collection of student-generated data. They are normally done at the end of a course. Projects require the application of knowledge and skills in an open-ended setting and require one to explore a problem or concern stated either by the teacher or the students. They are also done after completion of a course or a study program.
The effect of timely feedback on student performance
Effective feedback can be a powerful influence on student performance in that it scrutinizes and enlightens one about progress thus enhancing student learning. Similarly, it encourages intellectual commitment which in turn helps in building confidence in a learner and plays a great role in the side of the student in that he or she can be challenged without being overawed. An accurate feedback given in good time on the achievement of the students helps to reflect on more specific needs and therefore illuminate on the more significant areas that the learner should concentrate on to release maximum potential. A feedback therefore contains details that can effectively guide the students on the area where they are performing well or poorly with an aim of taking appropriate action to improve on performance. This helps in effecting an informed change in the approach for both the teacher and the students based on the identified strengths and weaknesses of the student (Biggs, 2003 p.80).
The effect of timely feedback of test results to the teacher
An effective feedback is a deliberate teaching tool, which notes the quality of the performance and how it can be improved and this may change depending on the nature, setting and timing of the assessment as evaluated by the teacher. This can be seen in practice as the remarkable differences seen between the new first year students and the continuing students as well as between small classes and bigger classes. An effective timely feedback of test results to the teacher allows him or her to determine what standards students already know and to what extent. Based on this revelations, the teacher can be able to make informed decisions on the appropriate modifications necessary to direct the learners to more focused educational direction. The teachers can therefore decide what minor modifications that can lead to improved achievement among the students and also be able to come up with more specific lesson plans and accompanying activities for learners. A teacher can as well be in a position to set goals for improvement by informing students about their current progress. All these will Supply as much backup information as needed to help a student troubleshoot their own performance by relating various aspects of poor performance to specific remedial actions on time (Biggs, 2003 p.83).
Reliable testing in driving instruction both diagnostically and thoughtfully
When examining the most reliable mode of driving instruction, one should always bear in mind that Instruction takes time. The more time one spends in teaching a a given concept does not always translate into quality learning because learning should be viewed as work where students must be actively involved and therefore must be oftenly be motivated. The motivation here can be from the material being learnt or from grades achieved by the learner. (Brophy, and Good 1986, p 4). Taking these two conditions in mind, then on demand assessment which entails oral reports, multiple-choice and short written-response tests can be viewed to be the most reliable testing in driving instruction compared to cumulative assessment which entails projects and portfolios tests that require a large amount of time and planning to complete.
Assessment is important in improving classroom teaching techniques, designing of curriculum and gauging teaching practice that best suites the students. It is also an important tool for guiding and informing. It is clear that different kinds of information must be gathered about students by using different types of assessments.
It has been seen that the different types of assessments are useful in measuring diverse facets of the learners as they go through different stages in conceptual and skill development. The results of the various assessments must form the basis of developing the potential of the learners towards a focused end, for this is the major objective of any assessment (Badders 2010, p1).
After assessment, it’s very necessary for educators to give timely feed back to the students. Feedback encourages students to assess their performance and be in a position to know where they performed well or where they did poorly so as to improve in the next assessment. Therefore, the various assessment methods are most effective when combined with efficient and opportune feedback of the assessment results.
Badders, W. (2010). Methods of Assessment. Web.
Biggs, J. B. (2003). Teaching for quality learning at university: What the student does (2nd ed.) Buckingham: Open University Press.
Brophy, J. E., and T. L. Good. (1986). “Teacher Behavior and Student Achievement.” Handbook of Research on Teaching. Ed. M. C. Wittrock. 3rd ed. New York: McMillan.
Harp, B. (1996). The handbook of literacy assessment and evaluation. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon.
McDaniel, R. (2009). What is assessment? Web.