Evaluate Assessment Activities
Describe, use and evaluate two different assessment activities used to check the learning of either individuals or a group of learners. Analyse the purpose of assessment and produce a written justification of your chosen assessment method. Use an extract from your teaching practice portfolio and reflect on how your feedback has informed your learners progress and achievement and how feedback from others has informed your own professional practice. Introduction
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In my first year at College I have delivered Entry and Level 2 Motorvehicle Maintenance and with no previous experience of this course assessment was something I leant on the job so to speak. Initially it was games and questions and answers followed by tests which were mainly practical. As the year progressed I then started doing formal practical exercises (observed assessments), Web based exercises and finally multiple choice exam style questions. The Entry level course is assessed purely by portfolio (questions and answers plus job cards) but the Level 2 course has a summative exam element. These are spread over the year and total 5.
The two I am going to discuss are the observed assessments and job card creation. Job card creation The first assessment method I will discuss is the completion of job cards. As part of the course (either group) the learners all complete practical tasks in the workshop. Indeed this is one of the highlights for them as they are not an academically based group on the whole. Each practical task is designed to reinforce the theory element that was covered in the previous lectures. During the practical we (staff) make sure the learners understand what they are doing and its relevance to the topic in hand.
We also check they make notes to help with job card completion. Differentiation is also practised, not in the task itself but the bike they are given to work on. Some are easier than others for given jobs. Once the task has been completed and the workshop cleared up and all tools put away etc. (i. e. there is a break from the original task in hand) they all have to complete a job card to reflect what they have been doing. During this time I keep a close eye on what they are writing and often challenge them on various facts. I found ome learners struggled to remember what they had just done even with the help of notes whilst others completed the task almost unaided. During this task the results of assessing learning really became obvious. It was interesting that for the most part it was always the same learners that has the same problems. Over the year they did become better, some more than others. There were some however who had hit their ceiling with what we might consider these very simple tasks. Fortunately the course demands a very formative assessment approach and this final task of completing the job cards is almost a formality and not something you can fail at.
The bulk of the course assessment was done actually during the practical task. This was more the case for Entry level learners than the Level 2 learners. Level 2 learners had to complete similar tasks etc. but were slightly better at completing job cards. Again this was not something they could fail at. If it was not right they simply adjusted it until it was. For the learners this task was not one they relished as almost exclusively they are kinaesthetic learners with an aversion to both reading and writing and often listening.
This was consequently quite a hard task for the learners but a necessary one as the course demanded it as evidence of their learning. It did open the opportunity for discussion however and lots of them learnt a lot during these sessions. There was also an element of team work as for the most part they worked in groups doing the workshop tasks. As the year progressed and reflecting on my teaching portfolio, without exception all my learners improved and in some cases gained the confidence and desire to help others which was very encouraging. Interestingly this was the less able helping those that may have missed a session etc.
A great boost in self confidence for them and the class generally. As the teacher from this whole workshop process I was able to differentiate between those likely to be technician material, those who may make fitters and those who were not going to make it in the field. With the benefit of hindsight these impressions are accurate so far. Observed assessments This is for the Level 2 learners only and involves carrying out a practical task on a motorvehicle under near exam conditions i. e. no talking to other learners in the room etc. They could talk to the teachers and ask some questions.
This was a particularly instructive task for us the teachers as the learner is suddenly on his/her own rather than in a group as they had been in the normal workshop sessions. As the teacher we had few surprises with the performance of the learners but there were one or two early on. These were mainly because it was possible during the workshop sessions to take a back seat and let your group do most of the work. Because of this they were unsure when it came to their assessment which is only to be expected. Whilst most learners completed the tasks correctly there were a few problems as expected.
Going back to my ethic of trying to treat them as adults I tried to relax them whilst doing the task and relieve the usual stress associated with this type of task. This was mainly around failure either in the task or to complete in the allotted time. I spent a lot of time reassuring them that if it didn’t work out it was not a problem, we would just do it again after some more practice. In the early assessments the learners looked as though they were treading on glass but as the year progressed and they relaxed and began to know our boundaries it became an enjoyable exercise for them.
For the teacher again it provided a wealth of information on their progress, knowledge and confidence and gave us discussion material for both the learners and parents evening. These tasks gave the learners an opportunity to show their knowledge and expertise and consequently progress through the course curriculum. There was no learning from one student to another of course but there was a good competitive spirit around success and time keeping. The purpose of assessment ‘Assessment is a measure of learning, at a given point in time’ [ ].
Taken on its own this is rather insular so it should be noted that the assessment process is a ‘a two way process’ [ ]. This means that the teacher should take on board feedback from the assessment process and where necessary modify their teaching practices to improve the overall learning experience. At its simplest this is for planning further teaching and assessment. There are several methods of assessment, some of them formal e. g. observations, tests, exams etc. and some are informal e. g. questions and answers, quizzes etc. and finally there are initial, formative and summative assessments.
In these early days of the course it seemed logical to use the above assessment methods as they were contributing directly towards the outcome of the course and its evidence based criteria. The college choice of examining board (City and Guilds) has left me very little scope for alteration of the assessment methods I have outlined. Looking forward though I plan to make the job cards a lot easier to complete which will aid in hitting the City and Guilds targets whilst going some way towards removing the dependence on reading and writing especially the English element.
I have other plans to re-introduce this though with research based homework as the functional skills elements must not be neglected. Feedback from my learners on my initial attempts has been very encouraging. So, whilst my aim is to follow on what Dr Patrick Geoghegan says ‘the students could test themselves in a non-intimidating way that could be fun’ [ ] I realise there is a way to go but we have made great strides this year and next year will be better.
Certainly, this year has been a steep learning curve for both the learners and teachers but we are progressing together and it is looking promising on the progression from one level to the next. I was observed by my supervisor and during the catch up session later received feedback about my teaching session. The most interesting point for me was the level of the lecture. It was a seemingly simple subject on exhaust systems but during the lecture the class and I got into an interesting discussion which veered off into the speed of sound through different temperature gases and so on. The feedback was simply to keep the lecture on track.
To this end I have now started to pre-empt little diversions like this with additional slides either at the end or in a separate presentation. This way I can cover these points at a later time or at the end if appropriate. Separating these out also means when I put my presentations on Moodle I can only put up the core show and keep some back for differentiation purposes. Conclusion Good assessment techniques particularly formative ones can be embedded into the lesson and almost unnoticeable to the learners. There are of course the more formal techniques which are more obvious e. g. Q&A, tests etc.
For myself I have been using a large range of assessment techniques some of which I did not even realise I was doing at the beginning. During the year the assessment process has been an interesting learning curve for both myself and my learners. I have involved them as much as I can and some of the feedback from them has been very insightful and consequently fed back into the process. Finally, feedback to the learner from assessment should always be as constructive as possible. This is supported by the following quote ‘assessment feedback …. should always be constructive’ [ ]. Bibliography Books
Ann Gravells and Susan Simpson, planning and Enabling Learning in the Lifelong Learning Sector, 2008 Susan Wallace, Teaching and Supporting Learning in Further Education, Learning Matters, 2001 G Petty, Teaching Today, Nelson Thornes, 2009 Websites Geoghegan P M (2006) ‘Hot potatoes’ formative assessment, in Every Student Matters’ Activities for Engaging and Widening Participation in Higher Education: A Preliminary Collection, Higher Education Academy Ireland Blending assignments and assessments for high-quality learning http://www. enhancementthemes. ac. uk/themes/IntegrativeAssessment/IABlendingInclusivity. asp