The success of a course depends on the outcome it provides with respect to student learning. This requires assessing the students to gauge their progress and understanding of the concepts. Assessment is “the systematic collection and analysis of information to improve student learning” according to Martha L. A. Stassen, a U.S based academic administrator.
Michael R. Fisher mentions in an article that assessment enables instructors to measure how effective their teaching methods are by looking at the student performance in relation to the learning objective. Assessment enables the teacher to see if ‘meaningful learning’ has taken place. He mentions in the article that it is important for a teacher to critically reflect on their teaching technique.
There are two forms of Student Assessment –
• Summative assessment is a form of assessment in which the learning outcome is assessed at the end of the course, such as the end-semester examinations of college students. While this might help assess student achievement, it does not provide the teacher or student to reflect on their teaching/learning strategies and modify their techniques accordingly. This is because it is only after the final assessment that the student or teacher gets to know if their method has succeeded or not.
• Formative assessment is another form of assessing the student where their understanding of the concept is gauged through the duration of the course. This can help in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the learner and provide them with valuable feedback on their performance. Further, it may guide the trainer to change their method of teaching to one that is more suitable for the learner. This method pays attention to the process of learning and not just the end product.
It is important to note that these are two forms of assessment. A few common methods of assessment mentioned in the article are:
1) Self-assessment: A method in which the learner judges their progress and evaluates their learning process. Portfolios, student journals, reflection logs are methods used often for self-assessment.
2) Peer-assessment: A method in which students assess their peers and vice-versa. This can serve as means for students to share their learning experiences.
3) Essays: Essays enable the tutor to gauge the skills developed and the learning that has taken place.
4) Examination: A commonly used form of assessment that can be both formative and summative. Instructors should be clear on what they are trying to evaluate and if the students are prepared for such an evaluation.
These are a few methods of assessment, and a combination of multiple methods is an available option to the instructors too. In the process of assessing students, instructors must remember that grading and assessment aren’t the same. Grading is only one of the aspects of assessment. As Fisher mentions “Remember that assessment links student performance to specific learning objectives to provide useful information to instructors and students about student achievement.”