The Assessors Guide to Assessments
You may be new to the TAQA world and are wondering about the different types of assessments. Well, this is where we come in to help. With over 25 years in the industry, we are industry specialists. We’re here to spread our knowledge and expertise to you. So let’s first talk about two kinds of assessments, formative and summative. Over on our sister site Brooks and Kirk Assessor, we went into detail about the definition of both these assessments and some examples. In this, we’re going to go into a bit more depth on how and why you should use them. Furthermore, give you some examples of practical use.
Formative assessment is also known as the assessment for learning. This happens throughout the learner’s journey. It also prepares the learner for their formal assessment (which is summative). Within assessing or teaching, you work towards a set of qualifications or industry standards. You need to check mark that each learner has efficient knowledge and skills to be competent in their area. That is what we call summative assessment, again you can read the more in-depth definitions on our Assessor site.
Why use formative assessments? Well, using formative assessments helps you as a practitioner find 0ut where your students are with their learning. Where their learning should be heading and what things need to be done in order to get them there. This process should include yourself and your learner.
Formative assessment activities can also be fun! For example, you could include some healthy competition or use some hands-on activities. You could also use questioning and discussion to keep your learners engaged. In fact, you can also use these activities to evaluate your student’s learning progress.
However, formative assessment is an ongoing process and includes feedback to make sure the learner is progressing on the right path.
Learning should involve learners of all ages. In our adult learning theory blog, we discussed how and why adults should understand the content they are learning. This keeps them motivated on their journey. It means you have to be clear on the learner’s goals, so they know what they’re working towards. Whether you’re in a workshop or classroom setting any objectives need to be stated clearly.
Benefits of formative assessment
There are many benefits when it comes to using formative assessments in any setting. Here are just a few examples:
- Monitor student progress
- Identify areas of weakness early on,
- Help adjust your methods to suit the needs of the learner,
- Encourages active and interactive learning,
- Gives you the opportunity to provide timely feedback to your learners.
Practical use of formative assessments
There are many different ways you can assess how well a learner is developing their skills, knowledge and comprehension of a topic. We’re going to give you a few examples which we find the best.
We know that good questioning is really helpful when it comes to assessing your learner’s knowledge. But what questions can you ask? And how? You can use open-ended questions, such as:
- Can you explain?
- Can you give an example?
Get your learners to explain their thinking out loud. Try and get them to explain their answers. Doing so, it’s a great way to gauge your student’s understanding as well as identify any areas of weakness.
In a workplace environment, observing a task is a great formative assessment method. Asking a learner to talk through a daily task is a great way to get insight into their understanding. Also be aware of their body language, for example, do they look confused or uncomfortable? This could be an indicator of if they’re understanding the topic.
Use short quizzes regularly
Another great way to use formative assessments is to use quizzes. This could be a few times a week or once a week. They don’t need to be long or extremely complex either. However, they should cover the criteria you’ve been covering.
We’ve mentioned this platform before, but we really recommend Kahoot. As it gives the learners a chance to be anonymous. This can prevent learners from feeling anxious if they don’t know the answer. Or it can give learner’s the confidence to speak up if they find speaking in class difficult. Plus it’s just a really fun app!
Giving your learners feedback is also a really important part of formative assessment. As you want your learners to develop and improve. Not all your feedback is going to be positive, which is why you need to understand constructive feedback ad how to deliver it. All and any feedback given needs to be constructive. This gives your learners something to work on. Oral and written feedback is a great way to give to your learners. This helps them know where to progress and how they can do it.
A summative assessment is any method that evaluates a student’s performance at the end of a unit. Which allows Assessors and Teachers to measure a student’s understanding. This is typically against standardised criteria. It’s often accompanied by a grade or a percentage depending on the subject area.
Summative assessments require clear expectations and timelines need to be set in order to give your learners the opportunity to succeed. Assessors or teachers use rubrics or assessment criteria to ensure students understand what to expect. Summative assessment results are important as they’re used to determine if a learner has passed a unit or class. Learning how to design effective assessments can be difficult and requires some serious creativity. Especially when you consider that you have a wide range of learners and their individual needs. What is effective for one student may not be for another. You have to think about what format will best gauge the student’s knowledge.
Just like formative assessments, summative ones have plenty of benefits to using them. Here are a few examples.
- Allows you to measure your learner’s progress at the end of a unit or year
- Helps you identify areas for improval,
- Helps you to adjust teaching
- Gives the students a chance to show what they’ve learnt
- Measures the teaching effectiveness
- Gives valuable insights.
Practical use of Summative Assessments
There are a few methods which you can use when it comes to summative assessments. Here we’re going to go through a few examples we like the best.
Create a unit test
A very common summative assessment method is creating a unit test. This is a test that covers all the material that has been taught over that period of time. Additionally, tests are a great way to measure your student’s understanding and help you identify areas in which they need more support.
Another common method is presentations. These involve students teaching what they have learnt about a specific topic. Students accomplish this through speaking to the audience, visual representations and interacting with the listeners. It helps you examine a student’s ability to analyse a topic or content. It provides a snapshot of the learner’s understanding and knowledge. On the other hand, presentations can build students’ confidence and prepare them for bigger stages.
Similarly, essays can be used to assess learners’ knowledge of a topic or unit in the course. When it comes to essays it’s important that you can provide clear instructions as well as marking schemes, so students know what is expected of them.
Using both formative and summative assessments is a great way to measure students’ understanding and progress. You can ensure that your students are learning and retaining the information you are covering. If you have any questions about formative or summative assessments, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we would be happy to help!