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Why Assess?



To determine students' level (of knowledge, understanding, ability) at beginning of course.


To enable students to identify and express learning needs.


To aid the tutor in structuring course contents.


To enable the tutor to judge student progress.


To enable students to judge their own progress.


To enable students to compare their current level (of knowledge, understanding & ability) with that of their peers.


To provide a context for feedback on student performance.


For purposes of certification.


  What is being assessed?  






Ability / competence




Combinations of the above


  Who can carry out assessment?  


The tutor


Other tutors / assessors (within the organisation)


External examiners / assessors


The student


Other students in the group


Others (e.g.: customers, consumers)


  When can assessment take place?  


Prior to course (to establish eligibility or entry level)


Beginning of course (to establish entry level, need)


Various stages during course (to gauge progress)


Prior to end of course


At end of course


After the course (to ensure continuity into practice)


  Where can assessment take place?  


In the "classroom" (or learning environment).


In an "exam room".


In context.


At home - or a place of private study.


In the workplace.




  How can assessment be carried out?  


Demonstration of competence


Practical exercise


Observation by tutor


Oral test


Continuous assessment

(all work done over duration of course)


Essay - assignment


Open book test




  Terminology - definitions  


Formative assessment

Carried out throughout the course (or at various stages); can be used as a diagnostic aid -applied by the student for purposes of self-assessment - or by the tutor in order to provide feedback.  (Assessment FOR learning)


Summative assessment

Usually carried out at the end of the course; may be performance-based and may result in award of a grade.  (Assessment OF learning)


Objective assessment

Consists of pre-determined, measurable, "right" answers (may be written, numerical, multiple-choice, etc. - and could be conducted online.)


Subjective assessment

Requires an element of judgement by the assessor.


Criterion referenced

Assessment is made against a set of pre-determined criteria.


Norm referenced

Assessment is made by comparing a student's performance with those of the peer group.


Ipsative assessment

This is when a student's present performance is measured against their own previous and ongoing performance.  It checks that progress is being made.


Principles and Practice of Assessment

in the Lifelong Learning Sector

Ann Gravells


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