Assessment methods and records in education

Assessment is a way of finding out if learning has taken place, but it is also necessary to assess your learners’ entry behaviors/understanding and to check whether the objectives have been met. In this article, based on an assignment created as part of my PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector) course, I will look at different types of assessment and also the need for good record keeping. Records are kept to show how learners are progressing and are essential for a learner to complete a course and earn the qualification for which they studied.

Assessment can be formative (ongoing) or summative (at the end) and can be formal or informal. It is about gathering information, making judgments based on the interpretation of that information, and then deciding on the appropriate course of action to achieve course objectives. Formal assessments include written, oral and practical tests or recorded observations (e.g. via video, Dictaphone or witness testimony) and their grades contribute to the respective qualification. These are objective, graded, and mark a point where a student may be making progress or need further instruction on a particular topic.

While formal assessments are usually time-bound (by which I mean timed tests as well as the fact that they are scheduled at specific points in a course), informal assessment is, in a sense, always happening – the teacher is constantly watching learners, listening to the answers and judge their attitudes and progress: These are mostly subjective and are not officially recorded. The learners can assess themselves and each other in pairs and groups. The assessment can also be carried out by another person within the teaching organization (internal) or from outside, for example by the examination board or a funding organisation/authority (external).

For my livestock department, many of the assessments can be hands-on – something that particularly suits the type of student attractive to this degree (ie less academically gifted), although other testing methods can be used depending on skill level. A BTEC course requires written proof of achievement, eg in the form of homework; On the other hand, an evening class for small farmers will not do this and the assessment will be largely informal.

As mentioned above, the initial assessment is crucial. Again, this can be informal (assessment of previous learning/knowledge level through introductory tasks) or formal (e.g. the need for an entrance exam/test). An example is the free writing practice required at the start of a PTLLS course – this was used by the tutor to assess levels of understanding, experience and expectation, as well as an opportunity to check literacy and communication skills . From an initial assessment, the teacher knows where to start, how and at what level to deliver the course content and, to a lesser extent, what type of learners to expect – a well-designed initial assessment can even tell a little about the learning styles of betray the group. A very valuable planning aid!

A word of course assessment – often a written document completed by learners – that gives a good indication of a person’s progress and understanding and helps to design/redesign future courses. This type of evaluation tells both the tutor and the course leader how well a course is “working” and how effective a teacher is.

You must keep records of learners’ progress. The most important would be an attendance record (to show that students have completed the required hours of formal study); a grading grid (to record all tests and assignments completed and the grades achieved); some form of profile document (recording, for example, key information about individuals’ achievements and challenges, any tutorial notes on recruitment, past achievements and progress reports); and evaluation forms discussed above (if these are completed during the course, the teacher and his managers can ‘tweak’ the course accordingly).

Without proper written records, the course cannot be formally completed and awards cannot be given – the types described in the previous paragraph represent a collection of evidence that a specific goal has been achieved. The record must be accurate as assessment information is some of the most sensitive information a teacher handles. It should also only be accessible to those who need to have access to it – ie those who are directly involved in the course aligned with the learning objective at hand.

Thanks to Andrew Carter | #Assessment #methods #records #education

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