For unit 007 Principles of assessment in lifelong learning I will be discussing and evaluating the various methods and reasons as to why and where assessment can and will take place within the lifelong learning sector.
Gravells (2012) wrote the ‘assessment is a way of finding out if learning has taken place’. Assessment within the lifelong learning sector is very important as the teacher/learner are able to see how they are progressing on the chosen course or course being taught. This also provides the teacher/ awarding body the evidence required to see if students are capable of passing certain aspects of the course and objectives set at the start of the course are being achieved.
The various ways of assessing learners or teachers range from question and answer sessions, written reports, peer and self assessments, portfolios, assignments and presentations.
There are three main types of assessment these consist of Initial assessment, Formative assessment, and Summative assessment. All of these are highly important for both the teacher and all those involved with the course.
Initial assessment is the first step in assessing yourself or the class. By using initial the learner, tutor, awarding body are given the opportunity to discuss and decide what the learner wants to achieve by participating on the course, what the awarding bodies set objectives are and the teacher is able to gather information on the learners so discover any learning difficulties, disabilities they have and what assistance will be required to allow the learners to achieve their set targets. The methods that can be used for this type of assessment are application forms, and class discussions,
The advantages of doing an initial assessment allows myself the teacher to assess the needs of the learners within my class such as disabilities that might require learning support and it also allows me to get an idea of what knowledge and skills my students might have. Overall it gives me an idea of what the learner hopes to gain from the course. This is the first stage of the learning cycle.
The disadvantages of doing an initial assessment could be more than one person is assigned to design and carry out the initial assessment, learners do not participate in class activities to assess their skills and knowledge.
Formative assessment also known as Assessment for Learning is an assessment that is constantly ongoing and monitored throughout the course and is a way of all parties involved to see how the learning of the students is progressing. This type of assessment is also used by the teacher in the construction of the lessons. This can be constructed in a way where activities are used within the classroom involving students working in ‘pairs or groups’ to complete tasks or discussions or to produce reports and present their findings to the rest of their classmates. The teacher is then able to use the evidence provided by these activities to determine how learners are progressing within the set objectives.
The great advantage of formative assessment for learning is that it is on-going. This allows for constant feedback to identify problems at their earliest stages allowing the problem to be rectified to help the learner meet their objectives without falling behind. By having on-going observation of the class the teacher is able to see how productive the students are and who is contributing more than other.
The disadvantage of formative assessment si that it can be very time consuming depending on the type of formative assessment you are using for example I may ask the class a few questions to get an idea of how well the learners are learning if most of the class get them right I will move onto another topic if they do not then I may initiate a class discussion so that those who didn’t get the questions right are able to see where they went wrong.
Summative assessment is the third and final part of the assessment and is carried out at the conclusion of the course and is a formal requirement. An example of summative assessment is when a learner summarises on how they found the course, if it was helpful and whether or not they met the objectives set at the beginning when the produced their initial assessment. Summative assessment also involves the use of record keeping which can include achievements acquired, test results and tutorial reviews. By using this information teacher and learner are able to discuss post course progression either moving onto a high level course or progressing onto a course where the learner is able to use the skills and knowledge gained in the previous course.
The methods used within the assessment process within lifelong learning come in a huge variety of methods ranging from simple question and answer sessions involving teacher and learners, presentations by individual learners to classmates through to written testimonials, portfolios and assignments and also using peer and self assessments. All methods used to carry out assessment are used to assess either a group or team or individual and their progress on a course, job or a government awarding body scheme. The people that would carry out these assessments would include employer, awarding bodies, teacher and also the learners themselves.
The advantages of summative assessment are that you are able to get a general overview of how much the learners have learnt this can be by quiz’s at the end of each class or a final exam at the end of the course and the learners grades will give me the teacher and the college an overall idea of how well the learners have done. Summative assessment must also be consistent throughout from one course to the next so everyone is taught the same material with the same final exam at the end.
The disadvantages of summative assessment could be the pressure of meeting deadlines for course work of having a final exam at the end, learners may feel that they have not achieved their aims if they receive a bad grade.
Gravells (2008:78) stated that ‘assessment should be SMART: Specific – tasks clearly stated, Measured – against all outcomes, Achieved – at the right level, Relevant – tasks which produce consistent results and Target – dates and times agreed for each task set. Teachers are able to use SMART objectives to identify the most appropriate assessment method required for classes.
Reece and Walker (2006:331) also stated that assessment should be valid and reliable Validity is concerned with getting the right assessment. ‘We should assess what is meant to be assessed according to awarding body/ college requirements’. Reliability is concerned with getting the assessment right. ‘Assessment should produce the same results if it was done again with a similar learning group and another teacher’. Gravells (2008:83) wrote ‘Valid assessments create standard results’. Valid – relevant to standards, Authentic – work has to be produced solely by the learner, Current – relevant at time of assessment, Sufficient – covers all criteria, Reliable – work and marking consistent across all learners.
All of the methods used in assessments have their own strengths and weaknesses depending on and what methods are being used to assess the course being taught. By using a variety of different assessment methods within a course the teacher, learner or awarding body are able to see how they are progressing and if they are meeting the objectives the set at the start of the course. There are limitations within every method. These can be depending on and how the course or subject is being taught, and various individual student needs. These limitations could involve disabilities such as autistic, blindness, speech impediments, poor reading and writing skills, dyslexia and can also involve either the learner or teacher feeling unwell and missing classes, unsure what to expect resources available to either the learner or teacher, any previous experience with the teacher or learner and also the personality of the teacher and learner. All of these must be considered by the teacher to ensure that no student is put at a disadvantage to the other learners within the classroom.
Learners are a huge part of the assessment process and it is important that they become involved within the process. The ways that a learner can participate can start from the initial application, their own personal individual learning plan, recording their progress throughout the course by writing personal journals detailing how they are finding the course and any concerns that they are having and if they feel that they are meeting the course objectives by the set time. Other ways that the learner can be involved is by submitting portfolios of assignments, presentations on given tasks and also by taking part in class discussions or peer/self assessments where the learners classmates assess each other on how they feel the learner delivered set topic. Peer and self assessment is a very important part of the process and involves learners assessing self and each other. This is a process where your “peers” or fellow learners are able to assess your progress and provide feedback and ideas on ways to improve on aspects such as speaking body language. This form of assessment is generally found during presentations, tasking and within general classroom or group discussions.
Gravells (2012) identified that ‘Peer and self assessment aid the development in the following skills: listening, observing and questioning’.
Once all assessments have been carried out and completed the next and final stage is to record and store all completed assessments or learning carried out during the duration of the course. Wilson (2008:336) states ‘ Although record keeping seems bureaucratic and repetitive these records are essential because they provide evidence of achievement and competence and help you to remember what has occurred and act as a guide to others in case you are not available’.
Record keeping is important on all levels as it is not only a record of all work carried out but also details any achievements accomplished throughout the course and whether standards were kept up to-date and achieved to a high grade as set by either college, awarding body or workplace. Records are also used as a formal way of producing evidence to show relevance of award.
Record keeping to be carried out by everyone involved on the course ranging from the teacher and learner to the college, awarding body and even includes the learners employers who are able to use these records to track the progression of their employees. All companies or organisations keep different types or forms of records varying from grades, diagnostic test results, enrolment forms health and safety information, individual learning plans and tutorial reviews.
Francis Gould (2013:145) state that records should be ‘Meticulous – accurate, Systematic – securely filed, Reliable – records passed onto appropriate authority promptly, Technology – produced using I.T’.
All records no matter the content must be kept and stored up to-date, must be accurate, legible and maintained to organisational set standards. All electronic record must be backed up in case of a system failure or file corruption, paper records must be securely filed and stored in accordance to the data protection act (2003). All records regardless of the content involved must be confidential and comply with organisational requirements.