O’Reilly, (2016) claims that “Assessment’ is the term that is used to explain relevant aspects of evaluation and testing. (2016, p.45). The keywords that are used specifically for assessment are “evaluation”, “measure”, and “test”. Evaluation is related to functionality and measure is quantified and gives a number. The test refers to how much the student has learnt. In more detail, Ghaicha suggests that assessment is part of the education process (2016, p226). The key elements are that instructors examine students by measuring, collecting and giving meaning to a specific object. This method involves a range of different quantitative and qualitative techniques. It is worth noting that there is a terminology confusion as the technical terms used can have a different meaning in different countries. However, formative assessment for learning in the UK is used interchangeably. (Shirley, (2010, p.60)
There are many types of assessment but the broader ones are formative and summative. The former is generally carried out whilst the course is ongoing while summative assessments are usually at the end of a course. “Assessment for learning” is an alternative phrase for formative assessment and “assessment of learning” is sometimes used in place of summative learning (Black & William 1998, p.26).
In learning and teaching, there are three key processes. First of all, it is the role of teacher to establish what learners have achieved. Then the aim is to identify their learning direction. Finally, they address what can be done for learners so they can reach their learning destination. Teachers inform their students about their learning targets at the very beginning of the learning and teaching process through formative assessment (Gibbs and Simpson 2016, p.224).
However, it is argued that assessments may cause a negative impact on students’ motivation. For those students who are at a lower grade level, assessments can become a barrier in achieving learning goals, as low grades may affect motivation. So assessments may not be inclusive. Likewise, careless implementation of assessments can lead to negative consequences for those students who have impairments, particularly when their requirements have not been taken into consideration. Equally, those students who perform better with regards to visual and oral skills become superior and have an advantage over others. Similarly, it is argued that if the results of assessments are used to display teachers’ effectiveness, this can lead teachers to teach for the test, rather than to give their students knowledge. This will result in a narrowing curriculum (Gibbs and Simpson 2016, p.228).
Referring to initial assessment, formative assessment is mostly related to classroom-based assessment (Ghaicha, 2016). One of the forms that could be designed is an ipsative assessment. This means an assessment that compares current performance with previous performances. The possible advantages are an increase in self-esteem due to improvements, and an increase in confidence by the progression. It may motivate learners so they can act on the feedback that they are given by facilitators. It also gives tutors and students a longitudinal view of assessments. However, it is important to note that one type of assessment does not fit for all (Coney 2014, p228).
The formative ipsative assessment can be applied by using information technology (Ghaicha, 2016). This will be effective on two fronts; it will decrease the time spent on marking as it will be done automatically by the program and it will decrease the paper usage and contribute to saving the environment. The information technologies remove some of the constraints with traditional methods of assessment. However, IT technology will not improve the system of assessment itself. For improving the system of assessment, there needs to be a newly designed or refined method that includes the three elements of assessment. The three elements are observation, cognition and interpretation. These process together support intended inferences. IT helps make sequences of actions visible and it can model complex types of tasks.
Assessment and its various methods can be used with digital devices and tools for educational purposes. The reason is that it provides many authoring tools and offers solutions for complex issues. It can produce a resource in which the sequence of actions can be visualised. Likewise, those tasks that are complex and difficult can be modeled in a reasonable way (Gibb and Simpson 2016, p.228).
However, some issues may be raised regarding utility, practicality, cost, time, equity and privacy. There is no doubt that the created resource will have high value in its utility and practicality but these resources can be difficult to create using complex IT programs, especially for inexperienced individuals. Many teachers may not have the skills for such programs. To help solve this issue, there will be a need for training sessions and courses which will definitely take time and may even be costly. Equity issues include the fact that the tools may not be available at all provisions, especially if there is a cost involved, as some schools may not be able to afford such programs. Many of these programs are now online and creating profiles and storing work online can always lead to privacy concerns. (Ghaicha, 2016).
Conley, D. (2014) ‘A New Era for Educational Assessment.’ Education Policy Analysis Archives, v23 n8. 40 pp.
Ghaicha, A. (2016) ‘Theoretical Framework for Educational Assessment: A Synoptic Review.’Journal of Education and Practice, v7 n24 p212-231
Gibbs, G. and Simpson, C. (2016). Conditions under which assessment support.London: Routledge
Shirley, C. (2010) Outstanding Formative Assessment. London: Hodder Education
O’Reilly, A.(2016)‘Developing Technology Needs Assessments for Education Programs: An Analysis of Eight Key Indicators.’ International Journal of Education, v12 n1 p129-143 2016. (EJ1099589)