There are numerous methods of assessment, which relate directly to assessment types, but refer to how that assessment type will be used. They can be classed as formal or informal and the method used will depend on exactly what you are wanting to assess. Another thing to consider here is the relative skills and abilities of your learners. Different methods of assessment will suit different skill levels. Let us firstly look at some of the formal methods:
Assignments are a fairly general method of assessment and will often be required by the Awarding Body. They can be based on a number of learner activities and will also establish the learners’ grasp of the taught parts of the course. An assignment will help assess the learners’ knowledge and understanding of the subject. Can be formative and summative.
Observation is an excellent way of judging exactly how well your learners have absorbed the learning, by seeing how well they can put theory into practice. If mistakes are made, you can question them afterwards to ascertain whether or not they were aware of the error. If they are working in a group, you can also utilise other members of the group to give peer feedback. This is also a form of informal assessment. Generally formative, but can also be summative.
Examinations or tests are, again, often a requirement of an Awarding Body. These will normally consist of written questions, with the possibility of either a fully written answer or multiple choice answers, and would take place under invigilated conditions. Mainly summative, but could also be formative.
Some of the informal methods, apart from peer assessment mentioned above, are:
Written and oral questioning. Generally an excellent method of assessing knowledge, and can also be a form of formal assessment. With oral questioning, you can often coax an answer from your learner, by rephrasing your question if he/she does not appear to understand fully what you have
asked. The type of questions used can vary considerably, but generally avoid closed questions which do not show the learner has the required knowledge. In group situations, try and spread the questions around the learners evenly. Generally formative, but could also be used as part of a summative assessment.
One to one discussions between tutor and learner, based around the assessment criteria, can help establish any possible gaps in the learner’s knowledge of a particular subject. This can also be beneficial in providing a ‘comfort blanket’ for a learner who finds it hard to fully take part in the classroom environment. These discussions can also show how ready a learner is to proceed with the next part of a course. Formative assessment.
Quizzes and puzzles can be used as a fun way to test knowledge, perhaps at the end of a session, or just as a means of filling in time if the session is running short. Also useful as a means of checking basic knowledge retention in the most informal and unobtrusive of ways, which could be beneficial with certain types of learner. Formative assessment.
Generally speaking, formal methods of assessment are not used in initial assessment, although a multiple choice test is often used to assess prior levels of learning. However, the informal methods are ideal for this purpose.
AssignmentsGood consolidation method – can cover more than one area – holistic assessment – allows learner to research their answers – marking criteria provided by Awarding BodyAll required aspects must have been covered before commencement – requires individual assessment and feedback – questions may be misinterpreted if not written carefully ObservationsCan see demonstration of imparted skills – can cover more than one area – holistic assessment – in group activity, learners can help each other to cover the whole areaMay need filming for permanent record – may still need questions to confirm understanding – different assessors may judge differently, not objectively Oral questioningMost straightforward method – can be incorporated into any discussion, individual or group – gets an instant response – most suitable method for some types of learner (e.g. dyslexics) – instant assessment of ‘has learning taken place’
Questions must be structured correctly to elicit a suitable response – can be ambiguous – must use ‘open’ questions to demonstrate knowledge – must use clear grading criteria if a mark depends on it – may need rephrasing for clarity QuizzesFun way to test basic knowledge – less stricture on the learners – will benefit some less able learners with its light-heartedness – useful ‘filler’Some learners will be unhappy with its triviality – only elicits a simple answer and does not judge level of knowledge and understanding of the subject