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Assessment

Assessment represents a large suite of learning strategies which all are ways of measuring or gauging participants' progress, in order to identify the next steps in learning. There are many different ways that assessment is categorised. Good instructors will be using ‘formative’ assessment in their training all of the time where they continually evaluate the progress of the participants and give them feedback on this, without a formal test or mark. By contrast ‘summative’ assessment is sometimes used in the training environment, often as an end of course ‘quiz’ to quantify the progress made by each participant over the course. Most professional learners will be proficient at self-assessment and are able to identify their own learning needs, provided that relevant learning objectives and checklists have been provided. Assessment is an integral part of good training and vital for effective learning, as it increases engagement and achievement, by providing learners with feedback to identify what to focus their efforts on next. 

Synonyms

Assessment for learning (AfL), Feedback

You will need

Essential

There are no essential prerequisites for assessment.

Optional but good to have

  • Mini whiteboards – one per participant so they can write down their responses
  • Classroom response system (electronic version)
  • Post-ups
  • Problems questions
  • Quiz questions
  • Tests

Benefits and limitations

Benefits

  • Promotes trainee engagement
  • Promotes self-assessment and self-study
  • Improves achievement
  • The trainer can adjust their training according to the feedback they receive so the training is better pitched and paced to the trainees' needs
  • From the feedback they receive, the trainees better understand their learning needs and how to meet them

Limitations

  • In larger class sizes can be difficult to identify and adjust the training to the individual needs of all of the trainees
  • Some adult learners will be unwilling to admit where there are gaps in their knowledge. In this case only forms of assessment that test their knowledge will uncover these gaps to provide a useful assessment for both the trainer and trainee.
  • Incorporating quizzes and questions into a training session takes up a substantial amount of time within the session, and so the trainer must take this into account when planning their materials.

What do I actually do as an instructor/facilitator?

Preparation / before class

It depends on the specific assessment methods intended. The list below includes some methods but is not exhaustive:

  • Questioning: Some questions do not require prior preparation but it is good to think of some challenging questions that effectively test students understanding of the material.
  • Polls/surveys (Including use of interspersed short exercises, mini whiteboards and classroom response system): These methods are designed to check the learners’ understanding at regular intervals throughout a learning session. Preparation for these is explained on their relevant pages in this toolkit and generally involves the design of appropriate questions.
  • Post ups: Post ups require little or no preparation in advance of the course.
  • Discussion sessions: Require little preparation, although it can be helpful to think up some controversial questions in advance to stimulate the discussion.
  • Quizzes: Appropriate questions should be written in advance of the course. These questions should specifically be aligned with the intended learning outcomes to allow assessment as to whether these have been met.
  • Tests: Again, appropriate questions should be written in advance of the course.
  • Projects: See project-based learning. Preparing a starting point for projects is usually recommended.
  • Presentations: No preparation is necessarily required for trainee presentations. 

Implementation / during class

Again this depends on the specific assessment methods used:

  • Questioning: Challenging the class with impromptu questions interspersed throughout a session promotes interactivity and engagement.  
  • Polls/surveys: (Including use of interspersed short exercises, mini whiteboards and classroom response system): These methods are designed to check the learners’ understanding at regular intervals throughout a learning session. The trainer asks pre-prepared questions to the whole class and has some method for capturing the whole class response. The trainer can then use this information to decide whether to spend more or less time on a particular concept.
  • Post ups: Learners are encouraged to write down questions at the start of the session that they would like to know the answer to, and post them up on a whiteboard. The trainer can examine these to ensure relevant material is covered. Then at the end of the session, trainees are asked to move their post-ups to a different section of the whiteboard if their ideas have been met; thus the progress made is clearly visible to all.
  • Discussion sessions: A trainer can facilitate a discussion session by asking controversial questions, and depending on the contributions made by trainees, can assess their progress and understanding.
  • Quizzes: Quizzes can be carried out individually or in pairs or groups, in exam conditions or with the help of materials. Peer marking of quizzes during training time is a good way for trainees to learn to self and peer assess, and helps to reinforce learning. It also provides the trainer and all participants with instant feedback about the progress which is being made.
  • Tests: Similar to quizzes but often distributed individually and in exam conditions. Tests followed by peer-marking allow students to find out what they know and where they need to improve.
  • Projects: The final result of project work (see project-based learning) can be assessed to examine the progress made by participants.
  • Student Presentations: Observing presentations delivered by participants which they have done to summarise their learning allows the trainer to assess their knowledge. Questioning can be used to probe deeper, and comments can be used to deliver instant feedback. 

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Peer-reviewed publications

Foshay, W.R. and Tinkey, P.T. 2007. Evaluating the Effectiveness of Training Strategies: Performance Goals and Testing. ILAR 48(2):156-162.

Embedded Formative Assessment; Dylan William (2011) ISBN-13: 9781934009307.

Other

Wikipedia

 Related methods

Classroom response system

Interspersed short exercises

Post-up

Project-based learning

Questioning

Student Presentation

Quiz

Similar Methods

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