Reflections on Assessment Sweaty palms and crumbling stomach—these were just some feelings I encountered as a young child whenever I had to take a test. Every time I prepared for a test, I wondered why they existed and wished they had not been invented. Many young learners share this feeling about testing or assessment. A teacher’s announcement that there will be a test the next day always elicits a negative reaction from the students. This reflects a negative view about assessment, which has persisted for many decades within the education system. Nervous about assessment, some students fail tests, thus negating the main purpose of assessment that is to measure student learning. In this view, the negative attitude regarding assessment should be changed in order to benefit the learners.
The wrong notion about assessment has been passed on from one generation to another, making it a common and persistent attitude. Feeling nervous during assessment, students’ performance may be hampered as they lose focus on the test. As a young student, I myself shared the same notion, and experienced failure to answer items I actually knew because of the uneasiness I felt during the test.
Whenever my teacher announced that there will be a quiz the next day, I felt a sudden burden on my chest, which could only be lifted once the test was over. Many of my classmates shared the same feeling; some even dreaded tests and did not wish to come to class during test dates. The question, “Why were tests invented?” always entered my mind. Nevertheless, I had to go by the rules in order to graduate so I did my best in every assessment. As I grew up, I learned to accept assessment as a challenge, an important part of learning that aided me to know which part of the lesson I missed to comprehend fully. My view about assessment changed as I considered assessment as a challenge, and not as a fearful aspect of instruction. In particular, I learned that advance preparation for tests could change my view of assessment, and that cramming added to my nervousness during exams while preparing psychologically and physically led to a good performance. Later in college, as I encountered different forms of assessment, I started to enjoy taking exams, and found them as an inevitable part of the curriculum.
My realizations regarding assessment are varied. As I became a teacher, I learned the many purposes of assessments. Mainly, assessments should be done as an assess of learning and as an assessment for learning (McMillan, 2006). This suggests two kinds of assessment, one that is used to measure learning that occurred, and another that increases learning intended for students. The first is the formal assessment we usually encounter, one that requires the student to answer questions such as in graded recitation or in a written exam. This form of assessment identifies the amount of learning that each student has attained. It also determines whether the teaching methods used were effective for both fast and slow learners. Items in assessment results lead the teacher to discover what concepts were strongly emphasized and what concepts need to be further expounded on.
In the second form, assessment is used to further increase learning. This form of assessment is likewise referred to as informal assessment. Informal assessments take the form of enrichment activities, which are needed to further emphasize learning. According to Navarete, Wilde, Nelson, Martinez & Hargett (n.d.), informal assessments are “indicative of the student’s performance on the skill or subject of interest.
” While formal assessments come in pen and paper, informal ones may require active performance such as role-playing, drawing, journal writing, investigative research, etc. As the requirements for this form change, so do the criteria. While the first form makes us of items and percentages, the second form employs a more flexible and considerate criteria. Aside from application of concepts, it also looks for creativity, effort, and overall impact. Both forms of assessment are important in instruction, thus educators across levels have considered their use. In my own class, I make sure to use both forms to maximize and obtain a fair measurement of learning.
I believe that through this practice, students have become more lax regarding assessment. They now enjoy performing during assessment than we did before. Also, unlike the formal tests that I encountered before, my formal assessments or those that come in paper contain varied formats. This is in consideration of learning styles and interests of students. I make sure to incorporate illustrations that require visual-spatial ability, use film clips or voice records to challenge listening skills, and requires student to write short essays at the end of the test in order to gauge their linguistic ability and reasoning. Varying test formats helps to arouse interest, and provide a more exhaustive measure of learning and ability. The changes in the way teachers conduct exams have been very progressive.
They have transformed students’ view of assessment, and gave teachers a more valuable measurement of learning. Formal assessments provide an easily perceivable measure of learning based on students’ scores, while informal assessments give further insights on student learning. Moreover, they help develop other skills such as leadership, presentation, interaction, and other life skills that they need to learn in school.ReferencesMcMillan, J. (2006). Classroom assessment: Principles and practice for effective standards-based instruction. 4th ed.
Boston: Ally and Bacon, pp. 52-53.Naverete, C., Wilde, J., Nelson, C., Martinez, R. ; Hargett, G.
(n.d.). Informal assessment in educational evaluation: Implications for bilingual education programs. Retrieved May 13, 2010, from http://www.finchpark.com/courses/assess/informal.htm