Cert Ed Mod 2

Introduction
What is assessment Gravells (2008) suggests that assessment is a process of ascertaining if learning has taken place. Gravells adds that assessment enables the assessor to find out if a learner has gained the required skills and knowledge needed at a given point towards a course or qualification. ? 
The assessment process in a teaching environment is a necessary requirement in order to measure a pupil??™s knowledge and understanding. Assessments come in many guises, and of all the methods, each are invaluable in obtaining an outcome in which the teacher can use to obtain positive outcomes. Throughout this essay, I will look at the different theories and principles of assessment. Furthermore I will discuss methods on how a teacher can establish and maintain an appropriate environment for assessment to maximise learners??™ opportunities and potential for success. Moreover I will give consideration to equality and diversity issues relating to the assessment process.
Initial assessment
Initial assessment is an essential part of effective admission procedures. This type of assessment is about knowing your candidates in order to be able to support them appropriately. It is the starting point from which students??™ progress and achievement can be measured. Initial assessment should be of benefit to learners and help them feel positive about themselves and their potential to learn. As a tutor it is imperative that you identify the learner??™s needs, whether these are numeracy or literacy or indeed any areas of learning which need to be addressed. A basic functional skills test would be beneficial to decipher at what level a student is at. Knowing initially what the learner requires is necessary as it can be used to plan the course and measure development. Initial assessment involves an induction this takes place prior to the course beginning and is imperative in the future planning of any learning outcomes. It is also important initially that the tutor ascertains the candidates learning style, this could be auditory, visual or activist.
Diagnostic assessment
Diagnostic assessment is an evaluation of a candidate??™s skills, strengths and weaknesses. This can be carried out with the tutor in either an individual or cohort environment. It gives the tutor a thorough indication, of not only which level an individual needs to be placed within for the delivered course, but also which specific areas of work they need to improve on.
Formative assessment

Formative assessment is a self reflective process which focuses on instructions which are designed to provide a two way feedback process for student and teacher. Petty (2004) suggests that formative assessment is informative feedback to learners while they are still learning the topic. But to be truly formative this information must be used by the learner to improve. This method is used to enhance learning whilst not focussing on grades; the students have a lot of autonomy in that they mark their own work and are encouraged to raise questions. Gravells (2008) suggests that teachers could use assignments or questions to assess knowledge and use observations to assess skills. Formative assessment also helps the teacher monitor their student??™s progress and implement support strategies??™ accordingly. In my domain I review my learners every four weeks; this procedure takes place in a private one to one conversation with the learner where we discuss achievements, areas for development and future targets. This information is written down on a review sheet and is used to tell a story of the learner??™s progression.

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The benefit of this type of assessment is that, as a teacher, I can create appropriate lessons and activities for the learners. For example, upon noticing that a learner is struggling with measurements I set up a marking out activity which I have designed that helps the learner progress in that particular area. This task involves the learner using a tape measure, pencil and a two metre length of wood. The learner then identifies sizes on a worksheet and transfers them onto the timber, these sizes are simple to start with then become more challenging as the learner progresses. Further benefits to this method include that the students are more motivated to learn and take responsibility for their own learning. Students are exposed to skills such as self-evaluation, self-assessment and goal setting. Furthermore the learner can ascertain what area of training they need to develop further before a summative assessment is undertaken. ? 

? Summative assessment

This is a more formal method of assessment which involves learners undertaking exams, this then gives the teacher information on who is achieving. Wilson (2009) suggests that the teacher should consider the total number of assessments and distribute them across the programme of study. Wilson also indicates that it would be good practice to liaise with other teachers on the team, whilst working within awarding body dead line dates. Petty (2004) suggests that assessment can be carried out on the basis of checklists or a set of competencies??™. He goes on to explain that this is a widely used method where criterion-referenced assessment is required.

There are many thoughts on whether this type of assessment is in the pupil??™s best interests as it can cause the learner anxiety and unnecessary stress, the learner may also feel threatened in an examination environment. I have experienced a learner that was highly competent but buckled under the pressure of a final assessment; I knew from his previous attempts that he was more than ready to attempt this particular task. To address this issue I took the emphasis off the formality and led him to believe he was undertaking a formative assessment which I knew he was able to achieve. The learner achieved the outcomes of the assessment by meeting all of the performance criteria. The feedback relating to the session was positive. I plan to use this method for future learners that struggle to cope with the stress of a final assessment. ?  ?  ? 

Ipasative assessment

? This method is where pupils compare two or more desirable options and pick the one which is most preferred. In education, this is the practice of assessing present performance against the past ones. It can have a positive outcome in that it eliminates the competitiveness out of situations and encourages pupils to beat their previous scores.

Continuous assessment

This is a process by which the tutor is continually assessing the students work throughout the term, semester or year. This is part of the internal assessment procedure where all of the learners work is collated and assessed. To ascertain if a school, or in my case training centre, is following government Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) and awarding body guidelines, an external verifier will attend the centre and audit all or sections of the marked course work. On completion of the audit the moderator provides documented feedback on any anomalies or gaps in my work. The verifier will then set a time scale for amendment.

This method of assessment is also a more holistic method as it takes into account all of the work the student has produced rather than focussing on a solitary exam. Petty (2004) suggests that continuous assessment is the process by which work completed during the course is assessed as part of the learners summative assessment. Petty explains that this method of assessment dramatically increases learner motivation.

? Equality and Diversity in Relation to Assessment

Equality and diversity are often thought to be one of the same but there are very clear differences which when positively practiced by employers can have a huge impact on the individual. All learners need to feel valued and have positive self worth, and as a teacher in the learning environment it is of upmost importance to be aware of the local and government guidelines ascertaining to equality and diversity and the promotion of inclusion thus reducing exclusion.
Equality, whilst treating everyone equally doesn??™t automatically mean treating everyone the same. Everyone has differing needs and organizations need to be aware of differing issues around disabilities, gender, ethnicity or religion. People should not be unfairly treated because of their beliefs or because they do not conform to what is often thought the norm. The learning environment should be a place that embraces and acknowledges different cultures, gender and sexual equality.
Diversity is about valuing the differences in people and utilizing their strengths, it is about acknowledging the differences in people and valuing opinions that you might not have considered valid. We all have differing ideas on subjects often quite emotive and it is about not dismissing ideas we don??™t always agree with but listening and being able to be non judgmental and respect the differences in others. Equality and diversity need to be practiced to ensure inclusion occurs.
Petty (2004) suggests that the validity of assessment depends on whether it actually measures the knowledge or skills it is designed to assess. Petty goes on to talk about how the validity of an assessment must also sample across a large proportion of the topics on the syllabus, and sample all the appropriate levels in Bloom??™s taxonomy.
Blooms taxonomy was first formed by Benjamin Bloom for classifying levels of learning that frequently arise in the classroom environment. Blooms taxonomy contains three overlapping domains the cognitive, psychomotor and affective. Within the cognitive domain Benjamin Bloom identified six levels that have become commonly known as Blooms Taxonomy. (Article alley, accessed 2011).
During the assessment process, adjustments may need to be considered depending on the cohort .Gravells and Simpson (2009) suggest that assessment methods should always follow VACSR (Valid, authentic, current, sufficient and reliable). Adjustments to examinations and assessments may have to be made to enable all learners to reach their potential.

Assessment should always be the authentic work of the learner in question. In my professional area I always take photographic evidence during practical assessments, I then get the learner to back up this evidence with a written document which focuses on the sequence of work undertaken.

Assessment should always be current in that the learner must be able to demonstrate skills and knowledge to current standards. Performance criteria are constantly being altered and updated in my profession, this is due to tools and materials being constantly modified and improved. It is important that as a tutor I keep up to date with modern practices, this is achieved by continuous professional development.

When questions are being asked on assessment sheets they should be clearly phrased and written so that the learner can understand what it is that is being asked of them. All questions should be relevant to that particular unit that they have been working on.
Reliability is essential in the assessment process Gravells (2008) suggests that if the assessment was to be repeated with a similar cohort or learner would you receive similar results. Gravells adds that if other assessors are also assessing the same qualification as you, you need to ensure that all assessors involved are making the same decisions. Petty (2004) supports Gravells in this area but suggests that in practice perfect reliability is impossible to achieve and in particular essay questions are less reliable then objective test questions.
Petty (2004) suggests that the reliability of examinations is considerably increased by the use of carefully designed marking schemes which allot marks on objective criteria, rather than leaving the mark to the general impression of the tutor. ?  ?  ?  ? 
Formal and informal

Gravells (2008) suggests that the subject you are teaching will decide whether your style of delivery could be formal, informal or a mixture of both. Formal delivery methods could be lectures, demonstrations and presentations. Informal could be discussions, group work and practical activities.

When teaching a theory session, I use a formal setting to deliver the subject which could include a board and handouts. Even though my session is classed as formal I always include the learners by asking questions to check that what I am delivering is being absorbed.

For practical sessions I like to create an informal setting as I find that the learners respond to this teaching environment. I also like the learners to use their own imagination and involve them in the planning and learning of sessions. It is extremely important that I manage the session carefully; this will ensure that I maintain control throughout the duration of the session. All too often I find that unplanned sessions lead to disarray.

I establish and maintain an appropriate assessment environment by carrying out regular checks on timber stocks; this ensures that I have the relevant materials for the relevant assessment. This procedure is repeated for tools and other basic resources. Furthermore I always make sure that the learners understand what is expected of them and this is achieved with the use of the aims and objectives; I find that the learners do refer to them throughout the session which takes the pressure off me to constantly repeat myself. I constantly reinforce the importance of workshop tidiness as this is connected to health and safety which is a major part of my profession.

Feedback

Feedback is a very important part of assessment; this process informs the learner on progress made and is the perfect opportunity for the teacher to discuss areas for development. Feedback can be offered verbally or written. I prefer to cover both with a one to one meeting with the learner as you can then give the learner an opportunity to ask questions and also see if he/she is happy on the course and ascertain if there are any underlying issues in the home environment. Wilson (2009) suggests that feedback should be immediate, if circumstances mean that feedback cannot be offered instantly it is your responsibility to inform the learner when a meeting can be organised.

Wilson (2009) suggests that feedback should incorporate what the standard is or what the assessment was about, Wilson adds that the teacher should describe what has been observed or reviewed without sidetracking.

Before I begin to relay feedback I take five minutes to have a conversation with the learner based on general everyday issues. I find that this comforts the learner and generates a good communication path.

The feedback method I use is the feedback sandwich, I begin my feedback with praise and achievements; this could be anything from good attendance to completion of an end exam. I then begin the second stage of the feedback process, which I find is the most difficult to discuss, as this is the stage that you constructively criticise a learner. It is very important that you approach this part of the feedback process with caution, as to not attack the learners feelings I plan and think about what I am going to say in advance. I refrain from using confusing sentences like ???it was ok but??? and use alternatives like ???have you considered??? this enables me to be more professional in my delivery and eliminates confusing messages. For the final part of the feedback sandwich I reinforce the learner??™s achievements and discuss new targets and future up and coming assessments. ?  ? 

References

Gravells, A. (2008) Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning sector, (3rd ed.) Exeter: Learning Matters
Gravells, A. and Simpson, s. (2009) Equality and Diversity in the Lifelong Learning sector, Exeter: Learning Matters
Petty, G. (2004) Teaching Today, (3rd ed.) Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Ltd
Wilson, L. (2009) Practical Teaching a Guide to PTLLS & DTLLS, Hampshire: Delmar Cengage Learning
Article Alley. ? What is Blooms taxonomy. Available from: http://www.articlealley.com/article_18775_22.html. [Article Alley, Accessed 20 February 2011

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