At the end of any course or training sessions, it's typical to make your students complete some sort of assessment. It's important way to make sure they have a good understanding of the course material, and have met the outlined requirements to complete the training and achieve a pass mark.
However, not all types of assessment work for every type of course. Some training may require more formal forms of assessment, such as an essay or exam, while others may assess students on work they complete throughout the course. It's important to make sure you pick the correct type of assessment for the material you are teaching, as this will ensure you are testing your students accurately.
We take a look at some of the most common assessment types, and how they work for different situations, to make sure you pick the best assessment type for your course and your students!
This type of assessment is used to measure a student's understanding of the material throughout the training, and is usually carried out several times throughout the learning process. This is a short term form of assessment, as it is designed to see how students are integrating a new piece of knowledge with their already existing knowledge, as well as what they have learned since they started their training.
This form of assessment can be either formal or informal, but it's important that you give feedback to your students as soon as possible. Feedback is usually used instead of scores for formative assessments, as it lets students know quite clearly what they are doing well in, and what they need to improve on. Simply holding a test and giving your students their scores won't help them progress, so it's important to provide clear, constructive feedback to help them see what they need to work on for the remainder of the course.
This type of assessment is also of great benefit to the teacher, as it means you can look at how well the course is progressing at various different stages. This gives you the chance to change the course design if needed, or edit the content slightly if your students are presenting gaps in their knowledge, without having to wait until the course is finished.
Formative assessments are a great way of seeing how your students are performing right from the get-go, which lets you pick up any problems they present at an early stage. This will mean your students will have the chance to improve their performance as they go along, instead of waiting for a final assessment to highlight these problems, by which time it will be too late to fix them.
Good examples of formative assessment could be asking your students to prepare a presentation, which they will perform at the end of the class, or an unplanned quiz, which will test their knowledge on the spot.
Interim assessments are a more formal type of assessment which take place throughout the learning process. These will be spread out over the length of the entire course, but will take place less frequently than formative assessments.
Again, these types of assessments can be used to help see gaps in a student's knowledge before they reach the final assessment stage, and may be used to pick up problems that were not highlighted by formative assessments. As interim assessments are more in-depth, and require the students to present more knowledge, it may show that they have a basic knowledge of the material, but not enough to actually pass the course at the end. It's important to make sure everyone is on track to actually complete the course you are teaching, so assessments like this give you the chance to direct your students in the right direction.
Interim assessments could be things like a short essay, a project, or a test on a specific area of material or selected area of reading. They will also require you to give some feedback to your students, though this will not be as instant as feedback on a formative assessment, as it may take time to grade things like essays and tests.
If your students need to complete a set amount of assessments of this type before they are permitted to complete the course you are teaching, they should also be given the opportunity to re-sit any assessments they may fail. This is why giving them constructive feedback is so important, because it lets them see what they need to work on before being given another attempt at the interim assessment.
The final type of assessment is the summative assessment, which typically takes place at the end of a large period of learning, such as a final exam or project at the end of a course. The main purpose of this type of assessment is for the teacher, as well as the school, workplace, or training company, to see how well the student has performed, and then grade the student accordingly. This type of assessment can be used to judge whether a student has passed or failed a course or class.
For this type of assessment, feedback is usually very limited, if any is provided at all, as the main focus if usually on the actual grade achieved. More often than not, students will not be giving the chance to re-sit this type of assessment unless they have the ability to go through some sort of appeals process, or choose to complete the course again.
While teachers can still use this type of assessment to identify things they would like to change about their course structure or content, the results are usually only useful to the next set of students who will be sitting the course. However, this is a still an important stage for the teacher, as it lets you develop your course every time you run it, if needed, to ensure you are providing the best learning experience possible.
As we stated above, it's important when choosing an assessment type to pick one which suits your course material and your students. The three types of assessment we've listed above all have a very clear place in the traditional structure of a course, but it is important to pick the assessments which you feel fit your course.
You may run a course which doesn't need a final summative assessment, but instead uses a number of formative assessments throughout, which is perfectly fine if that's what you think will suit your course best.
The most important thing to consider is that you are providing the best learning environment for your students, so pick the assessments that will challenge them effectively, but also lets them gain as much experience and knowledge as possible.