Assessment is an integral part of any kind of learning. It determines the progress of the learners. It also determines the degree of the progress made by a teacher in respect of making his/her pupils understand the topic or subject he/she teaches. Assessment guides or tells him whether he should change the course of his action, way of delivering things and art of teaching. Therefore, assessment is important as a tool for learning for teachers.
So, assessment is a very important part of the whole teaching and learning process. Most teachers only think that the main aim of the assessment system is to measure the student’s performance. It measures a teacher’s performance as well. The more a teacher is an expert in assessing his students, the more he enters the depth of his profession. Until and unless a teacher knows well how to assess his students, he cannot be a good teacher as teaching and assessing go hand in hand. A teacher should also know what kind of assessments he/she should do. Which one stirs the students and gives them benefit.
Usually, two kinds of assessments are practised in our educational institutions such as summative and formative assessment. Formative assessment is very important and it can be done with almost reality but the summative may not always give the exact figure. However, this assessment is done mostly in our public and international examination. It takes less time but formative assessment takes time. It is not always easy to conduct such kind of assessment.
The assessment has a major impact on teaching and learning. The assessment of student learning has often been seen as a tiresome and harmful necessity. Tiresome is in the sense that a teacher is to examine a lot of scripts employing his/her physical and mental labour. Students are to remain busy mentally, physically and even psychologically. It is said harmful because it seemed to encourage cramming and superficiality. In most cases, students prefer selective learning which somebody considers commercial learning.
It is very practical that learners want to have commercial benefit from their learning and reading. Whatever tiresome or troublesome it is, assessment is a must as without it learners will hardly feel encouraged to read and learn. Teachers will have no exiting game or work with the student if there is no assessment system. Students’ future, career, life, development, encouragement are determined by the assessment. Whatever, the pain they have to bear special kind of taste and pleasure they derive from the examination. As assessment reinforces learning, so, it must be an integral and planned part of the whole learning process.
A program may have an excellent curriculum and materials, but if its assessment component is not well designed and integrally aligned with both of these, the entire program may ultimately fail to achieve its objectives. In this case, I like to cite the example of our communicative English syllabus. Our communicative curriculum is excellent but the examination system still does not fully or appropriately reflect CLT.
The terms ‘assessment’ and ‘testing’ are often used synonymously. However, there is a subtle difference between these two elements. Assessment refers to the broad area of monitoring or taking stock of the performances of students or the impact of programs. It involves a variety of procedures both quantitative and qualitative. Measurement is a system for observing a phenomenon, attribute or characteristic and translating those observations into numbers according to a rule. (Christine Coombe)
Testing refers to a set of specified, uniform tasks to be performed by students. These tasks are appropriate samples from the knowledge or skills in a broader field of content. Evaluation is the determination of the worth or value of an event, object or individual in terms of specified criteria.
Formative assessment which is conducted during a course is more likely to have a positive washback effect than summative assessment which is typically administered at the end of a course. This is because students can be given detailed and comprehensive diagnostic feedback after a formative assessment. The student is less likely to pay attention to diagnostic feedback on a summative assessment as they have essentially finished the course and are more likely to be interested in finding out their overall course grade. In order to facilitate learning for teachers from an assessment teacher need to provide their students with detailed, comprehensive feedback on their performance in the assessment.
The teacher needs to allocate sufficient time for providing feedback and provide the student with a rationale for giving feedback. If the process and procedure of assessment are not transparent, learning hardly takes place there. Students should be informed of what the assessment will cover, how it is to be rated and graded.
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