1. Formative and Summative Assessment:
The following quote describes the differences between formative and summative assessment. Although the quote refers to law students it is applicable to students in any educational setting.
“The difference between formative and summative assessment is often an area of concern for law teachers. The essence of formative assessment is that undertaking the assessment constitutes a learning experience in its own right. Writing an essay or undertaking a class presentation, for example, can be valuable formative activities as a means of enhancing substantive knowledge as well as for developing research, communication, intellectual and organizational skills. Formative assessment is not often included in the formal grading of work, and indeed many believe that it should not be.
In contrast, summative assessment is not traditionally regarded as having any intrinsic learning value. It is usually undertaken at the end of a period of learning in order to generate a grade that reflects the student’s performance. The traditional unseen end of module examination is often presented as a typical form of summative assessment.”
The use of both of these assessment methods would be included in my instructional protocol. I believe that we must check for understanding as we teach to avoid losing touch with our students. Certainly the summative assessment is necessary when determining student grades.
2. Neutrality- Objective and Subjective:
Subjective assessment is described by this reference; “In subjective assessments the teacher’s judgment determines the grade. These include essay tests. Essay tests take longer to answer and they take longer to grade than objective questions and therefore only include a small number of questions, focusing on complex concepts.” Objective assessment can be defined by this quote; “Objective assessments (usually multiple choice, true false, short answer) have correct answers. These are good for testing recall of facts and can be automated. Objective tests assume that there are true answers and assume that all students should learn the same things.” In everyday use the objective assessment is probably the assessment of choice for most educators. The ease of scoring is a big factor in this case and since time is always in short supply this form of assessment will constitute the core of my assessment strategy. The subjective assessment can be used in an open-ended format. Due to the use of this type of problem on standardized tests I would include this type of testing as an alternative assessment technique.
3. Self Assessment:
The concept of self-directed assessment is explained by this reference: ” Students need the opportunity to evaluate and reflect on their own scientific understanding and ability. Before students can do this, they need to understand the goals for learning science. The ability to self-assess understanding is an essential tool for self-directed learning. ” The ability to self assess is a function of student maturity. Any self assessment or peer assessment assumes a level of understanding on the part of the students that requires honesty and heart-felt evaluation. In a 9th grade algebra class I am not sure I can utilize this format effectively. Perhaps there will be opportunities to include this assessment type somewhere along the line but I will have to exercise extreme caution when implementing such a strategy.
4. Constructed Response- Selected Response:
From : http://fcit.usf.edu/assessment/constructed/construct.html
“With selected response assessment items, the answer is visible, and the student needs only to recognize it. Although selective response items can address the higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, many of them demand only lower levels of cognition. With constructed response assessments (also referred to as subjective assessments), the answer is not visible — the student must recall or construct it. Constructed response assessments are conducive to higher level thinking skills.” Once again I take the easy way out. With ESL students I am happy when they are capable of selected responses. There are those occasions when a constructed response would be nice but that is a rare occurrence.
5. Ability and Performance:
Timothy Slater of Montana State University describes the rationale for performance assessment in the following reference; WHY USE PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT?
“Although facts and concepts are fundamental in any undergraduate SMET course, knowledge of methods, procedures and analysis skills that provide context are equally important. Student growth in these latter facets prove somewhat difficult to evaluate, particularly with conventional multiple-choice examinations. Performance assessments, used in concert with more traditional forms of assessment, are designed to provide a more complete picture of student achievement.” A performance assessment in a secondary mathematics class would probably be constructed in a project format. Allowing the students to utilize their creativity would be an interesting and exciting way to measure student achievement. The design of such an assessment could provide a differentiated approach to the curriculum goals. Here the key is student motivation. For the engaged student a performance assessment may well prove to be a rewarding experience.
6. Authentic and Standardized:
In Developing Authentic Assessment: Case Studies of Secondary School Mathematics Teachers’ Experiences Christine Suurtamm writes,”Since traditional tests often focus only on the answer or the use of a suitable algorithm to reach the answer, authentic assessment techniques need to be employed to provide a broader range of measures. In this article, the term authentic assessment is used to describe assessment of this type: assessment that involves students in tasks that are worthwhile, significant, and meaningful and that resemble learning activities. Such assessment activities also encourage risk taking, allow for mathematical communication, and provide the opportunity to demonstrate the application of knowledge in unfamiliar settings.” This definition of authentic assessment provides the basis for the design of assessment strategies that can have a significant effect on student understanding. By creating assessment tools that have relevance to the world in which our students live we can build bridges that can connect our students to the goals of our curriculum. It is not always easy to accomplish this goal. Mathematics like most subjects demands a level of commitment on the part of the student. However by providing assessment that is challenging and engaging the chance of a successful outcome is certainly increased.
Choosing the appropriate assessment for a particular group of students is a task that requires a thorough understanding of your students. In an ESL classroom it is important to design assessment with realistic goals in mind. Communication is paramount in working with students who are struggling with language as well as content. Often assessment must be modified to meet these challenges.
As a teacher I am acutely aware of the need to assess my students. The entire system of public education revolves around one form of testing or another. Every student wants to know how they are performing and it is the job of the teacher to provide that information. Whether it is a paper and pencil test, an alternative assessment, a performance based evaluation, or any other measure of student knowledge the fundamental purpose is the same. Teachers must deliver instruction that is tied to a specific program. They must then determine how well their students have learned this material and they must do it fairly and reliably. Assessment lies at the heart of the educational process. It is the very art and science of teaching.
Suurtamm,C,Developing Authentic Assessment: Case Studies of Secondary School Mathematics Teachers’ Experiences,Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics, & Technology Education, Oct2004, Vol. 4 Issue 4, p497-513, 17p; (AN 15400415)