Assessment Activities


‘Assessment measures the breadth and depth of learning.   It has been criticized as being inaccurate and unreliable, and for distorting both teaching and the curriculum; it is also true that assessment results are notoriously poor at predicting future performance.   And yet society and teachers are unable to manage without it.   In the right hands, assessment can inspire, motivate, and provide the feedback which is essential for targeting prompt corrective help.   But it can also lead us to ignore what cannot easily be measured.’   (Geoff Petty, Teaching Today, Nelson Thornes, page 449).

In unit 101 we discussed the initial assessment of learners and identified why it was important to assess learners at the beginning of a course of study, ascertain their current knowledge or skills level on the subject and use that information to consider what approaches could best be used to manage the learner’s progress.   This logically leads on to the continual assessment of course work, sometimes culminating in a summative assessment at the end of the course.

Assessment serves many different purposes.   It can grade the attainment of learners, help to select candidates for jobs or future courses, contribute to evidence on the effectiveness of courses and teachers, and provide a long term goal for learners.   But this applies mainly in the final or summative assessment of a course, which aims to sum up the learners’ achievements.

The main use of assessment for teachers is the ongoing or formative assessment.   This is used throughout the course to form judgments on whether, and to what extent, learning has been successful.   Also to pinpoint difficulties so that remedial action can be taken.   As summative and formative assessment have very different aims, they are usually carried out in radically different ways.

At this point we need to discuss and understand the difference between norm-referenced assessment and criterion-referenced assessment.

A typical...