Students development, assessment and evaluation
The whole essesnce of a school is to serve as a place where the future generation of a nation is being brought up in a prescribed manner to succeed the present generation. School serves as a place where the development of the recipient of education takes place. The development here has to do with marked positive changes in all the domains of child development ; namely, cognitive, affective and psychomotive. Educational objectives describe the goals toward which the education process is directed - the learning that is to result from instruction. When drawn up by an education authority or professional organization, objectives are usually called standards. These standards need to be constantly monitored and measured to ascertain their attainment.
Taxonomies are classification systems based on an organizational scheme. In this instance, a set of carefully defined terms, organized from simple to complex and from concrete to abstract, provide a framework of categories into which one may classify educational goals. The idea of creating a taxonomy of educational objectives was conceived by Benjamin Bloom in the 1950s. Bloom sought to reduce the extensive labor of test development by exchanging test items among universities.
The result was a framework with six major categories and many subcategories for the most common objectives of classroom instruction - those dealing with the cognitive domain. To facilitate test development, the framework provided extensive examples of test items (largely multiple choice) for each major category. Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation. Skills in the cognitive domain revolve around knowledge, comprehension, and critical thinking of a particular topic. Traditional education tends to emphasize the skills in this domain, particularly the lower-order objectives.
The categories were designed to range from simple to complex and from concrete to abstract.
In addition to devising the cognitive taxonomy, the Bloom group later grappled with a taxonomy of the affective domain - objectives concerned with interests, attitudes, adjustment, appreciation, and values. Skills in the affective domain describe the way people react emotionally and their ability to feel another living thing's pain or joy. Affective objectives typically target the awareness and growth in attitudes, emotion, and feelings
Skills in the psychomotor domain describe the ability to physically manipulate a tool or instrument like a hand or a hammer. Psychomotor objectives usually focus on change and/or development in behavior and/or skills.
Assessment is classroom research to provide useful feedback for the improvement of teaching and learning. It is feedback from the student to the instructor about the student's learning. Classroom Assessment is the observation of students in the process of learning, the collection of frequent feedback on students' learning, and the design of modest classroom experiments that provide information on how students learn and how students respond to particular teaching approaches. Classroom assessment helps individual teachers obtain useful feedback on what, how much, and how well their students are learning. The teacher can then use this information to refocus teaching to help students make their learning more efficient and more effective. The main purpose of classroom assessment is to improve student learning.
Characteristics of Classroom Assessment:
Learner-Centered: Classroom Assessment focuses the primary attention of teachers and students on observing and improving learning, rather than on observing and improving teaching.
Teacher-Directed: Classroom Assessment respects the autonomy, academic freedom, and professional judgment of the teacher. The individual teacher decides what to assess, how to assess, and how to respond to the information gained through the assessment.
Mutually Beneficial: Classroom Assessment requires the active participation of students and the teacher. When students participate more actively, and feel more confident that they can succeed, they are likely to do better in their work.
Formative: Classroom Assessment is formtive rather than summative. Summative assessments include tests and other graded evaluations. Classroom Asessments on the other hand are almost never graded and almost anonymous. Their aim is to provide faculty with information on what , how much, and how well students are learning.
Context Specific: Classroom Assessments need to respond to particular needs and characteristics of the teachers, students, and disciplines to which they are applied. Being Context-Specific means: what works in one class will not necessarilly work in another.
Ongoing: Classroom Assessment is an ongoing process, perhaps best thought of as the creation and maintenance of a classroom "feedback loop" Changes are made based on the classroom research results and student feedback.
Builds on Good Teaching Practices: Most teachers already collect some feedback on their student' learning and use that feedback to inform their teaching. Classroom Assessment is an attempt to build on existing good practice by making it more systematic, more flexible, and more effective.
Classroom Assessment Techniques:
- Climate Surveys - Feedback of teaching/learning methods used, text, pace, format of class, etc.
- Muddiest Point - Discussion Board or individual student input for what is still unclear
- Minute Paper - What was most useful that you learned? What questions remain?
- PreTest and PostTest - Questions to show overview of course content; used for first day to show depth and breadth of topics covered and last day to show what learning has occurred
- Embedded questions - Questions embedded within the actual graded tests
- Reflection Paper - Student critical thought feedback over a learning unit, a learning experience, a field experience, etc.
- Competency Checklists - Skills and competencies checklist of ability
- Group Informal Feedback on Teaching (GIFT) - Anonymous survey asking for 1-2 instructor actions that help students learn and 1-2 instructor actions that hinder or interfere with learning
- Self-Assessment Survey or Posting
- Student Portfolio of Work - compilation of work, including drafts, over time to show growth and development of skills and knowledge
- Classroom Feedback - Takes many formats; analyzing papers, tests for item analysis for research.
- Analysis of Test Items - Certain test questions are used for faculty feedback on concepts learned. Remember ASSESSMENT is NOT for EVALUATION. Evaluation is SUMMATIVE RESULTS for the purpose of grading, appraising, judging, etc.
Without question, assessment is one of the most vexing and taxing issues associated with teaching. It is also one of the most important, both for the students and teachers. Good assessment and evaluation strtegies provide students and teachers with information about how well students are learning and about effectiveness of teachers' instructional practices. Of course, any kind of assessment or evaluation can only examine a snapshot or small percentage of the total possible understandings or abilities that students have. That relity makes it crucial that teachers think carefully about the development of their instructional objectives and the relationship between those objectives and their choice of assessments.
Students and teachers cannot benefit from assessments that focus on relatively unimportant aspects of the material presented or demonstrated by students.
With the advent of standards-based education, performance assessment has become more widespread. In general, performance assessment focuses on students' authentic or real-world demonstrations of competencies as opposed to more traditional paper and pencil tests. "Performance assessment requires examinees to construct/supply answers, perform, or produce something for evaluation." (Madaus and O'Dwyer) Performance assessment is actually a much older type of testing than the relatively modern paper and pencil tests. But these types of performance-based assessments are generally summative, or end point, evaluations.
Formative assessment is described by Angelo and Cross as "almost never graded" and intended to provide the teacher with information on what, how much and how well students are learning, in order to help them better prepare to succeed—both in subsequent graded evaluations and in the world beyond the classroom." Formative assessment, as opposed to summative types of assessment, is also very often anonymous; teachers attempt to gauge how well all students are doing as a whole.
Three major categories of informal or formative evaluations: assessments in the cognitive domain, assessments in the process and affective domains, and portfolios that document activities in all domains.
Teacher dialogues and discussions with students are the most basic and essential element of informal assessment. Generally, such conversations emphasize relatively quick checks for knowledge and comprehension. When lecturing, for instance, teachers should try to incorporate questioning techniques into their presentations. This style of lecturing might be seen as a modified Socratic style in which the teacher directs questions about the material to students, both to check for content understanding as well as higherorder thinking. When most effectively conducted, such lectures actually become more like discussions and opportunities for sharing of teacher and student points of view on the material. By listening to students' responses, a teacher can determine whether it may be necessary to re-teach material or move expeditiously on to the next topic.
Very often what one discovers when asking students questions is that they have faulty understandings based on misconceptions or stereotypes about the issues. Angelo and Cross suggest a "Misconception/Preconception Check" as a useful assessment tool for helping teachers to uncover students' misunderstandings.
With this formative assessment exercise, before starting a new unit the teacher asks students to list answers on key questions about the main themes in the unit. For instance, in a United States history class unit on the Great Depression, a teacher could list on the board: What were the causes of the depression? What did the Hoover administration do about the depression? (Angelo and Cross, 1993). What did the Roosevelt administrations do about the depression?
What event was most important in lifting the country out of the depression? After the students write down their answers, the teacher could have the students work in small groups and pool their answers to provide to the rest of the class. Before providing the right or most plausible answers, the teacher would ask the students to reflect on how they formed their judgments about the questions.
Discussion with students can also take the form of written checks for understanding. For instance, teachers can ask students to write for one minute to explain what they learned about a particular topic or issue. Normally, these one-minute writing exercises should be done near the end of class when a teacher will ask students to respond to variations of the following questions: What was the most important thing you learned during the class? What unanswered questions do you have about the lesson? Teachers can then collect students' answers, read through them, and gain an understanding of where they need to proceed or how they should adjust their instruction. This same idea can be applied to almost any type of direct instruction. For instance, following a video clip, a teacher might ask students to write down the main ideas or themes from the clip. These can then be scanned quickly after class and then used to help direct further discussion of the importance of the segment that students watched. Teachers might also ask students to take a very short quiz at some point during a lesson to see how well they understood key concepts or ideas.
The K-W-L format also provides useful formative assessment information. Students indicate what they know, then note what they want to learn, followed by some indication of what they have learned. This process can be conducted orally or in written form. With each of these types of formative assessments, the emphasis is not on scoring the students' work as it usually is with a summative assessment. Instead, the information gathered helps the teacher focus on how students are either learning or not learning the material. This again helps teachers decide how they might proceed.(McIntosh, 1997).
Another type of written formative assessment is initialing students' work on projects that have been scaffolded. Any fairly involved research projects in which students test a hypothesis should be structured to help students understand the process involved in examining the document or documents, analyzing their meaning or meanings, and then composing their responses to the hypothesis. These scaffolded assignments require the individual or groups of students to receive a teacher's check or initials before moving to the next step. As the teacher moves from one student or group of students to the next, they can gauge the students' efforts, talk to them if needed about how they are doing, and then indicate, with their initials, if the students should proceed to the next part of the project. (Kobrin. 1996).
Pretests can provide useful information for formative evaluation, particularly for judging students' basic knowledge and comprehension. Used in this way, pretests provide diagnostic information that allows teachers to determine what students know before they begin a unit. By identifying students' understanding or gaps in understanding, teachers can then modify their unit design accordingly. Normally,pretests, like most formative assessment tools, should not be graded.
Process and Affective Domains
Although usually more time consuming, there are several more intensive types of formative assessment. Here, instead of relatively quick checks for understanding or comprehension, the teacher engages in more in-depth questioning or written assessments of students' abilities in the process and affective domains. By using "probing" questions during a classroom discussion, for instance, a teacher can gauge students' analytical or evaluative abilities in the process domain. In history and social studies classes, questions that require students to explain how or why, target their higher-order thinking skills. These questions can be asked not only during a class discussion on a topic, but are alsoideal for when students are working on research projects, either individually or as part ofa group.
Angelo and Cross describe several variations on these sort of higher-order questioning techniques. For instance, students can be asked to explain the "pros" and "cons" of a decision-making process. In a political science class, a teacher might ask students to list the pros and cons of eliminating the electoral college from the presidential election process. In this case, rather than simply checking students' comprehension of factual issues, the focus is on decisions, judgments, dilemmas, or issues that are central to the unit being taught. These answers can then be collected and assessed to see how balanced students' perspectives are and where they may have gaps in their analyticalskills.
Very often asking higher-order questions during such interviews requires teachers to follow-up with questions that ask students to elaborate on their answers. Here are some possible follow-up statements or questions.
- I am interested in your thinking. Please tell me more.
- Please help me to understand. Suppose you are the teacher and I am the student
- I don't think this issue is easy to understand. Sometimes I get confused, don't you?
- Sometimes when I have difficulty with an issue, I break it down into small steps. Let's do that here.
- Take your time and think about your answer.
Each of these prompts asks students to reflect further on their ideas. Indeed, formative assessment is especially useful for providing students with opportunities to develop their reflective abilities.(McIntosh, 1997)
Questioning and interviews with individuals or groups of students also allow the teacher to assess students' dispositions in the affective domain. Teachers should frequently ask students to elaborate on their beliefs, values, and attitudes. This type of discussion is useful not only in developing students' beliefs, but is also useful in providing teachers with important information about their students' attitudes, particularly in terms of have such attitudes change over time. In fact, the citizenship education function of so much of history and the social studies demands that teachers engage in informal assessment of students' developing belief structures.
Angelo and Cross outline several types of reflective formative assessments that focus on students' attitudes and values. One is the classroom opinion poll. Teachers can use such polls to help students prepare for a discussion of a controversial issue as well as a pre- or post-assessment device "to determine whether and how students' opinions have changed in response to class discussions and assignments." Opinion polls are ideal in history, social science, and social studies classes. Although informal interview assessments suggest an oral approach, this type of formative evaluation can also be practiced through a variety of written exercises.
Journals are particularly useful for asking students to reflect on their beliefs, values, and attitudes. When used informally, students may actually provide more honest remarks since they know that their attitudes are not being graded. Indeed, in these cases they may be more likely to express their reactions and beliefs in a journal rather than in open discussion. One type of written exercise focusing on students' values and analytical abilities is the double-entry journal. Many teachers require their students to keep their lecture and reading notes in a journal. The double-entry journal takes this one step further by having students write their reactions to their lessons in a separate column. On the left side of the page, students should take their lecture or reading notes, while on the right side, next to the appropriate issue, they should write their comments. Such responses help teachers to evaluate their students' reading, analytical, and reflective abilities. Requiring students to prepare longer profiles on individuals or issues is a variation on the same type of analytical and reflective journal entry. Here, however, the time required to read students' entries is greater.(Angelo and Cross)
Another way to use students' written work for formative assessment is by evaluating drafts with qualitative assessments of their idea development. Instead of assigning a score based in part on mechanical and grammatical proficiency, teachers can develop rubrics that provide written feedback about their essay's audience awareness, development, organization, coherence, and unity. (Scott and Vitale, 2000).
Since one of the main purposes of formative assessment is to provide teachers with feedback on how students are learning, teachers should also ask students for their reactions on what they have learned. This can certainly be done orally at the end of the class by asking the question, "What did you learn today?" But it may be more reliable and systematic to ask students to jot down their answers on a piece of paper and turn them in anonymously at the end of class. With the advent of e-mail and its widespread use, this can also be accomplished electronically. Although not quite as anonymous, its use may save class time since the messages can be sent to the instructor following class. Students can even engage in electronic conversations among themselves through class listservs. (Angelo and Cross)
Evaluation of Students Performance in Junior Secondary School:
Teaching is said to be completed when what is taught is evaluated. It is from evaluation ttha one determines whether or not learning has taken place. It is possible for teaching to be done without learning taking place. Teaching would be a futile exercise if learning fails to take place. This leads us to attempt a distinction between teaching and learning. Teaching is the act of imparting knowledge to others through communication. Ryan (2005) defines it as systematic presentation of facts, ideals, skills and techniques to students. Learning, on the other hand, is the observed change in behaviour of a recipient of knowledge. Mazur (2005) sees it as the act of acquiring knowledge or developing the ability to perform new behaviours. Every teacher will therefore want to know whether or not his teaching is effective by evaluating what is taught.
What is an Evaluation?
Evaluation is a participatory process designed to determine how well a program or project has accomplished its goals. Evaluation is always based on the examination of some established, empirical variable or indicator, and how current practices compare to that standard. The results of evaluation provide managers with information about whether to expand a program, to continue a program at its current level, to reduce spending, or to cut it entirely. The term "evaluation" describes different models that suit different purposes at different stages in the life of a project. Outside consultants are often hired to conduct a formal program evaluation of a microfinance organization. As a result, evaluation has frequently been viewed as an external imposition - a process that is not very helpful to project staff. Program staff can also conduct an internal program evaluation, however. When conducted appropriately, evaluation should be a tool that not only measures success, but can contribute to it, as well.
Microsoft Corp. (2006) defines evaluation as the act of considering or examining something in order to judge its value, quality, importance, extent or condition. When this is applied to teaching and learning, it may be defined as the act of considering or examining teaching and learning in order to determine their value, quality, importance, extent and condition. In other words, it can be said to mean the process of determining whether or not there had been changes in learner's behaviour as a result of new knowledge that has been imparted to him. Evaluation uses methods and measures to judge student learning and understanding of the material for purposes of grading and reporting. Evaluation is feedback from the instructor to the student about the student's learning.
Why Conduct an Evaluation?
Evaluation is an essential component in the development, maintenance, and performance of an organization. It helps to ensure that the organization is meeting its service mission and to demonstrate measurable outcomes to stakeholders. Evaluation, therefore, is a reflective process requiring a critical look at organizational processes and activity. Regular evaluation measures progress toward a specific goal and is a vital component of any effort to manage for results. When an organization is established, it determines, through strategic planning, what the mission and goals are for the organization, and the framework that will be used to implement them. This framework needs to be tested, which ensures that the organization is performing as planned, or if the organization needs to reevaluate its processes.
Types of Evaluation
There are two basic types of evaluation: formative and summative. Formative evaluation is atool used from the beginning to the end of a project. Typically, a formative evaluation is conducted at several points in the cycle of a project and is used to continually "form" or modify the project to make sure that its program activities match program goals and the overall mission. A summative evaluation assesses the project's success. This type of evaluation takes place after the project is up and running, in order to judge its impact. Impact assessment can be considered synonymous with summative evaluation.
Formative evaluation is used to assess ongoing project activities. For organizations, formative evaluation begins at the start of a project and continues throughout the life of the project. In general, formative evaluation consists of two segments: implementation evaluation and progress evaluation.
The purpose of an implementation evaluation is to assess whether the project is being conducted as planned. Implementation evaluation collects information to determine if the program or project is being delivered as planned. The following questions can help guide an implementation evaluation:
- Do the activities and strategies match those described in the proposal? If not, are the changes to the proposal justifiable?
- Were the appropriate staff members hired, trained, and are they working in accordance with the proposed plan? Were the appropriate materials and equipment obtained?
- Were activities conducted according to the proposed timeline? Did appropriate personnel conduct those activities?
- Were the appropriate participants selected and involved in the activities?
- Was a management plan developed and followed?
Project staff should use implementation evaluation as an internal check to see if all the essential elements of the project are in place and operating.
The other aspect of formative evaluation is progress evaluation. This type of evaluation is used to assess progress in meeting the project's goals. Progress evaluation should be thought of as an interim outcome measurement. Typically, a progress evaluation will measure a series of indicators that are designed to show progress towards program goals. These indicators could include participant ratings of training seminars or services provided through an organization, opinions and attitudes of participants and staff, as well as key indicators from the organization. By analyzing interim outcomes, project staff eliminate the risk of waiting until participants have experienced the entire treatment to assess outcomes.
Performance indicators are a critical component of an organization's formative evaluation. The results of an evaluation can be used broadly in an organization. The results are not only a good source of ideas for organizational improvement, but also a source of information for the organization's stakeholders, such as the Board of Directors, donors, host government, collaborators, clients or shareholders.
Summative evaluation is devoted to assessing the project's impact or success. Typically a summative evaluation takes place after the project cycle has been completed and when it is possible that the impact of the project has been realized. It answers these basic questions:
- Was the project successful? What were its strengths and weaknesses?
- Did the participants benefit from the project? If so, how and in what ways?
- What project components were most effective?
- Were the results worth the costs?
- Can the project be replicated in other locations?
Nevertheless, a well-conducted summative evaluation helps decisions makers - program managers, donors, agencies - determine if the project is worth continuing. An honest evaluation recognizes unanticipated outcomes, both positive and negative, that come to light as a result of a program. Being aware of possible unanticipated outcomes can help program managers better target their programs to meet the needs of constituents. Future funding decisions are often made based on this assessment. patterns, build on existing knowledge and experience, and produce results that can be easily used by management.
We have seen from the presentation above that even though we claim to be experts in our various fields of endeavour, there is the need for regular and constant review of how we stand. This can be achieved through workshops of this nature, where we meet with our peers in the field to discuss and exchange notes on recent developments in our fields. We are to be warned against relapsing into the belief of being 'expert' in the field. Let us be reminded of the advice of Highet (1977) again: " Instead of teaching the same old stuff year after year, constantly enrich your knowledge, keep your teaching alive and energetic and prevent your mind from falling into the disease of authority and age, which is paralysis". Teaching and evaluation require that teachers in their various disciplines, be well groomed in both the content and in the pedagogical techniques so that they will be able to function effectively in the discharge of the assignment they undertake. Also the administrators need to be constantly updated to give the necessary leadership in aspects of the school life that will enhance students development and the whole essence of education.
Let me acknowledge here that this presentation is more of a summarydrawn from the sources listed in the bibliography.
- Angelo, Thomas A. and K. Patricia Cross, (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers, Second Edition (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass),
- Carr, E. and D.W. Ogle, (1987) "K-W-L-Plus: A Strategy for Comprehension and Summarizing," Journal of Reading 30, 626-631.
- FGN. (2000). Implementation guidelines for universal basic education (UBE) programme. Abuja. Federal Ministry of Education.
- Highet, G. (1977). The art of teaching. London. Methuen & Co.
- Kobrin, David (1996) Beyond the Textbook: Teaching History Using Documents and Primary Sources (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann), 76-78.
- Madaus, George F. and Laura M. O'Dwyer, (1999) "A Short History of PerformanceAssessment: Lessons Learned," Phi Delta Kappan 80 (May), 689.
- Martorella, Peter H. (1996) Teaching Social Studies in Middle and Secondary Schools, Second Edition (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall,), 403.
- Mazur, J. E. (2005). "Learning". Microsoft encarta 2006 CD. Redmond W. A. Microsoft Corp. P. 1.
- McIntosh, Margaret E. (1997) "Formative Assessment in Mathematics," Clearing House 71 (November/December), 92-97;
- Microsoft Corp. (2006). Microsoft encarta dictionary tools 2006. Redmond W.A. Microsoft Corp.
- Ogle,D. W. (1986) "K-W-L: A Teaching Model that Develops Active Reading of Expository Text," The Reading Teacher 39, 564-570;
- Scott, B. J. and Michael R. Vitale, (2000) "Informal Assessment of Idea Development in Written Expression: A Tool for Classroom Use," Preventing School Failure 44 (Winter ), 67-72.
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