Re-purposing Assessment

I think most important is to identify the purpose of assessment. There is a variety of tools of assessment available. Choice of tools depends on the purpose of assessment. In process of learning and teaching, there are three important stages i.e before learning, during learning, after learning. Each stage has its own tools for assessment according to purpose. The first stage requires assessment of prior learning to help teacher adjust his teaching practices according to the prior understanding of students. The second stage requires assessment of teaching practices that how well they working. The third stage requires tools to evaluate the success of students for the report card.  There is considerable research to prove that assessment drives student learning. Our choice of assessment tool tells students what we think to be important. Students not only learn contents but also learn teacher’s style. If a teacher often uses MCQs only then students read it as an assessment of their knowledge only so they focus on learning and remembering facts only. On the other hand, if assessment tools emphasize on higher order thinking then students will ty to make sense of knowledge and will make sure to reach the expected analytical skills.

Pre-Teaching( Diagnostic)

If a teacher is planning to teach very different contents then it is important to assess prior understanding of students about the particular topic. MCQ, Venn diagrams, concept maps can be used as diagnostic tools.  Teacher’s choice depends on what level he is or she plans to assess. If it is knowledge then computer-administrated MCQs can be the best choice as they are time efficient. But they have very limited value for guiding student learning. If the teacher is assessing understanding and analytical skills then Venn diagram and concept maps are great tools. Moreover, no feedback is required at this time to students.

During Teaching (D1agnostic and Formative0

A teacher can split his teaching task into small chunks and after each activity student’s learning can be accessed. The teacher can use diagnostic and formative assessment at this stage. The assessment will serve two purposes.  It will help the teacher understand how well his teaching plan is working and it also helps to identify student’s weakness. The teacher should improve his teaching methods for guiding and motivating students to actively engage in learning. But the real power of assessment at this stage can also be realized by formative feedback to students. This feedback should be very specific and it should inform the student about his weakness and guide him to overcome the challenge. Moreover, it should be very short and precise. If many things are given to improve on then it is going to demoralize student and consequently, the student will give up. Feedback should help students in the evaluation of their own learning practices and It should aim to positively impact student learning

As to the assessment tools, it depends on learning goals. Choice of assessment tools varies in the levels of expertise required to achieve them. If the goal is just to know something then MCQ and True/False can be used but if the learning goals aim at higher order thinking skills, then open-ended assessment tools can be used to evaluate learning. The teacher can repeat this process for each chunk.

After Teaching (Summative Assessment)

At the end of teaching plan, the teacher can use the assessment tools to find out whether students have attained the course goals. Now in modern education, the emphasis is being placed on the ability of students to think analytically, to understand and communicate.  So the choice of assessment tools depends on course goals. MCQ can be used but they do not measure student learning accurately. However, they are very effective at measuring fact-based knowledge. But if course goals aim at critical analysis, then this assessment tools will not be very useful.