Student assessment is, arguably, the centerpiece of the teaching and learning process and therefore the subject of much discussion in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Without some method of obtaining and analyzing evidence of student learning, we can never know whether our teaching is making a difference. That is, teaching requires some process through which we can come to know whether students are developing the desired knowledge and skills, and therefore whether our instruction is effective. Learning assessment is like a magnifying glass we hold up to students’ learning to discern whether the teaching and learning process is functioning well or is in need of change.
The traditional method of evaluating a student’s knowledge is by conducting tests at the middle and at the end of each semester. Some teachers might think that giving home work and assignments can help students gain more subject knowledge. Students who perform well in school home works and assignments might not perform impressively in the exam.
Knowledge is much more than grades. Only an effective learning process can enhance students to be more than mere grades. It is possible that students might get confused between two closely related ideas. Better assessment clears all the confusion.
Approaches to measuring student learning
Methods of measuring student learning are often characterized as summative or formative assessments:
- Summative assessments – tests, quizzes, and other graded course activities that are used to measure student performance. They are cumulative and often reveal what students have learned at the end of a unit or the end of a course. Within a course, the summative assessment includes a system for calculating individual student grades.
- Formative assessment – any means by which students receive input and guiding feedback on their relative performance to help them improve. It can be provided face-to-face in office hours, in written comments on assignments, through rubrics, and through emails.
Formative assessments can be used to measure student learning on a daily, ongoing basis. These assessments reveal how and what students are learning during the course and often inform the next steps in teaching and learning. Rather than asking students if they understand or have any questions, you can be more systematic and intentional by asking students at the end of the class period to write the most important points or the most confusing aspect of the lecture on index cards. Collecting and reviewing the responses provides insight into what themes students have retained and what your next teaching steps might be. Providing feedback on these themes to students gives them insight into their own learning.
You can also ask students to reflect and report on their own learning. Asking students to rate their knowledge about a topic after taking your course as compared to what they believe they knew before taking your course is an example.
Considerations for Measuring Student Learning
As you develop methods for assessing your students consider:
- including indirect and direct assessments as well as formative and summative assessments
- evaluating whether or not the assessment aligns directly with a learning outcome
- ensuring the measurement is sustainable and reasonable in terms of time and resources, both for the students and the instructors
- using the results of the assessments to improve the course. Examples include revising course content in terms of depth vs. breadth, and realignment between goals and teaching methods.
In order to ensure that assessment and evaluation are valid and reliable, and that they lead to the improvement of student learning, teachers must use assessment and evaluation strategies which:
- address both what students learn and how well they learn;
- are based both on the categories of knowledge and skills and on the achievement chart descriptions given in Ministry
- are varied in nature, administered over a period of time, and designed to provide opportunities for students to demonstrate the full range of their learning
- are appropriate for the learning activities used, the purposes of instruction, and the needs and experiences of the students;
- are fair and transparent to all students;
- ensure that each student is given clear directions for improvement;
- promote students’ ability to assess their own learning and to set specific goals
- are communicated clearly to students and parents at the beginning of the course and at other appropriate points throughout the course
Measuring student learning is an important part of the learning process to identify how well the students are learning the concepts and the depth of their learning. This can be easily managed by an online student tracking system. Edutinker provides solutions to all the tracking needs for students and teachers.