The assessment process in a teaching environment is a necessary requirement to enable you to be able to measure a student’s knowledge and understanding. Assessments come in many different forms and use many different methods, each are important in obtaining an outcome to which the tutor can obtain positive outcomes.
Gravells (2008) suggests that assessment is a process of determining if learning has taken place. Gravells (2008) adds that assessment enables the assessor to find out if a learner has gained the required skills and knowledge needed at a given point towards a course or qualification. This is important to me as a tutor as I need to be aware of the learner’s progress and if they have retained any of the information / training they have been given.
Lesley Thorn Training Standards Council (2001) states that Assessment should not be something that is done to somebody. The learner must be involved and feel part of the process. As a tutor the initial assessment is essential; this assessment enables you to get to know your learners which will in turn enable you to support them appropriately. For some learners this will be an opportunity to explain any concerns or worries they may have either relating to the course or any personal issues that may affect their ability to learn. The initial assessment should be beneficial to the learners and should help them to feel positive about their capability to learn. As a tutor it is vital that you identify the learner’s needs, this could be numeracy, literacy or any areas of learning that will need to be addressed. At this stage a basic functional skills test is beneficial to enable you to work out what level a learner is at. You must know what the learner requires as this will be used to plan the course and measure the learners development. The initial assessment procedure takes place prior to the course starting and is crucial in the future planning of any learning outcomes. At this stage the learners learning style is also identified, (appendix 1) these could be:-
Visual: You are a visual learner- a watcher will probably like to work in an orderly environment and may be distracted by too much clutter or information around you.
Auditory: you are an auditory learner- a listener you may like to work in a quiet environment or with music of your own choice. Other people’s noise will distract you, what you like best is listening and talking to other people.
Kinesthetic: You are a learner – doer. You like a work environment when you can move about and do things – interactive computer soft wear will be a good way to encourage in learning.
Fairly even mix: you have a balanced approach to learning and use a range of different strategies for receiving and retrieving information. This is the best of all worlds and will help you to adapt too many different learning situations. Through discussing the outcomes of these questionnaires with the learner you can find the most suitable learning style for them. Honey and Mumford researched the way people learn and found that if learners where made aware of their learning style their learning would improve. My learners are all aware of their learning styles, I have learnt that if you use a variety of teaching methods the learner will interact more as they are not carrying out the same learning style continually.
Black and Williams (1998) found that the most effective formative strategies could add the equivalent of up to two grades to a learner’s achievement and the weakest learners benefited most from this. Assessment is a valuable tool for me to be able to assess where the individual learner is and the support needed.
Formative assessment – this form of assessment is ongoing e.g. completing written or practical elements towards a unit, with elements needing assessment before unit completion is awarded. There are a range of different ways in which you can complete assessments and these should be learner led and be supportive of individual needs and preferences. You can use a variety of methods including, Observation, Questions (written or oral), Professional discussion, past experience and achievements, accreditation of prior learning, assignments, activities, projects, presentations, simulations. Formative assessment is a self reflective process. This method is used to enhance learning whilst not focusing on grades; the students have a lot of independence and are encouraged to ask questions.
Gravells (2008) suggests that teachers could use assignments or questions to assess knowledge and use observations to assess skills. Formative assessment also helps the tutor monitor their learner’s progress and implement support strategies. I agree with this, as I regularly ask the learners questions to assess their knowledge, assignments are a big part of the learners award and observing the learner carrying out practical activities enables me to assess the learners knowledge, understanding and practical skills. In my area I review my learners every four weeks; this takes place in a private one to one conversation with the learner were we discuss future targets, areas for development and achievements they have gained. This information is written down on a review sheet and is used to tell the story of the learner’s progression.
The benefit of this type of assessment is that, as a tutor I can create appropriate lessons and activities for the learners. For example a lot of the work my learners complete is theory so to keep the learners interested I incorporate practical sessions. This could be from bathing a baby using a doll, or to simulating a hospital ward and have them move patients from the hospital bed to a wheelchair etc, this gives them a break from all the writing and researching they have to do and also gives them practical skills needed for when they progress onto a level two. This benefits the learners as well as me as they are motivated to learn and it provides me with different assessment methods.
Summative assessment – this assessment comes in the form of a test or exam where you get a pass or fail result. This is a more formal assessment making method which involves learners taking exams; by doing this the teacher is then able to determine who is achieving. There are many opinions as to whether this type of assessment is in the learners best interests as it can cause anxiety and stress. Wilson (2009) suggests that the teacher should consider the total number of assessments and distribute them across the programme of study. In my area the functional skills test can cause some of my learners to become stressed. Because of this I now run mock tests were they sit in exam conditions and carry these out, they know exactly what to expect and how long they have, by carrying this process out over a period of weeks they have become more used to the setting and when they have their tests they are more relaxed knowing what to expect.
This is an evaluation of a candidate’s skills, strengths and weaknesses. This can be carried out with the tutor either on an individual basis or in a group. It gives the tutor clear indication as to what level an individual is working at and also identifies which specific areas of work the learner needs to improve on. The learners at The training centre complete BKSB diagnostic on their induction (appendix 2), this deduces their Numeracy and Literacy level, and also breaks down the areas where extra support is needed. This is a useful tool for me as when the learner first starts on my course I already have a basic understanding of their abilities.
This form of assessment provides information on a learner’s present performance compared with their past performance. This could be used as an incentive to the learner to beat their previous score. This exposes the learner to skills such as self assessment, self evaluation and setting goals. The learner can establish what area of training they need to develop before a summative assessment is undertaken. The learners at The training centre use SMO (skills map on line) this is completed on induction where the learner identifies where they are on a scale of 100 in numerous categories including team building and managing money,(appendix 3). This is then repeated half way through the learner journey and again at the end. The learner and tutor can identify the progress being made and the areas needing improvement.
This process is when the tutor is continually assessing the learners work throughout the length of the course. This is part of the assessment procedure where all the learners work is gathered and assessed. I follow the awarding bodies guidelines and work to the standards set by them. The IQA will then verify my work and the files will be ready for when the awarding bodies EQA visits the centre to carryout audits, including learners work as well as the centre policies and procedures. Within schools and the training centre I work (OFSTED) Office for Standards in Education also carryout inspections.
The Internal Quality Assuror checks procedures ensuring that assessment is carried out fairly and consistently to national standards and that any areas for improvement are identified and acted on. The IQA should carryout a planned sampling of all assessment methods and units of the qualification. (appendix 4 and 5)
Petty (2004) suggests that continuous assessment is the process by which work completed during the course is assessed as part of the learners summative assessment. Petty (2004) explains that this method of assessment dramatically increases learner motivation.
This is my most commonly used method of assessment I find that with the work the learners do I can assess their work as they complete tasks, I ask oral questions and they also carryout role play, which the learners find enjoyable and beneficial. This has been identified through feedback gained from the learners.
Equality and Diversity in Relation to Assessment
As a teacher in the learning setting it is vitally important to be aware of the local and government guidelines to establish equality and diversity and the promotion of inclusion therefore reducing exclusion. Examples of these can be found in relevant legislation and regulations, for example Children Act 2004, Disability Discrimination Act 1995, Employment Equality Regulations 2006, Civil Partnership Act 2004 and Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
It is important that we meet the diverse needs of our current and future learners and that we ensure equality and diversity, the ways we can promote this are as follows:-
We provide educational opportunities that support learners from different perspectives of gender race, cultural identity, religious beliefs, age, sexual orientation or physical ability. All learners at Raywell Street Campus now have Dyslexia testing on induction; this is carried out at Head Office. This helps the tutors as we are then aware of any issues/ problems with a learner before they start the course. We also provide paperwork required for the learner on coloured paper, different font sizes can be used. A range of methods is used so we can put in place different resources to meet the individual needs of the learner, ensuring that they are included in all the teaching activities that are used.
We use different approaches and resources to enhance learning for all students by engaging them in activities that respond to particular learning needs, strengths and preferences. These methods are effective in addressing high achieving learners, learners with special needs as well as second language learners who may be in the same classroom.
Resources that can be used are easy to follow power point presentations that can be printed out to be used as a handout, presentations using graphics as well as written explanations, assessing by observation and oral questioning.
Gravells and Simpson (2009) suggest that assessment methods should always follow VACSR (valid, authentic, current, sufficient and reliable).
Assessments should always be the authentic work of the learner, the learner signs and dates each piece of their work on completion. As I work closely with my learners I am able to see what they do during the day and can monitor them.
I can take photographs of them when they are carrying out practical activities and presentations and they back this evidence up with a written document which explains what they have done.
Assessment should always be current in that the learner must be able to demonstrate skills and knowledge to the current standard. Performance criteria for the award I deliver can change and I must be aware of these changes. I have emails from the awarding body when any of these changes happen. I am then able to update my learner paperwork to reflect this. It is important that I keep up to date with modern practices; this is achieved by continuous professional development.
When teaching I use my training room this is set out as a classroom and also has a training area with equipment for practical activities. When delivering a theory session I have access to a whiteboard, flipchart, handouts, TV, DVD, questionnaires. I always ask the learners questions to check that what is being delivered is being absorbed. When I deliver my practical sessions we move to the other side of the room and use the equipment that was purpose bought for my area.
The learners are given the standards to the unit they are working on and I always write the aims and objectives on the flipchart so they are able to refer to these when required, this I find takes some of the pressure off me as I do not have to constantly repeat what I have planned with them.
Gravells, A. (2008) Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning sector, (3rd ed.) Exeter: Learning Matters
Gravells, A and Simpson, S. (2009) Equality and Diversity in the Lifelong Learning sector, Exeter: Learning Matters
Petty, G.(2004) Teaching Today, (3rd ed.) Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Ltd
Wilson, L. (2009) Practical Teaching a Guide to PTLLS & DTLLS, Hampshire: Delmar Cengage Learning
Petty, G (2009) Teaching Today (4th ed.) Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Ltd