Assessment Evaluation

Within the instructional setting, proper teaching cannot be attained without appropriate evaluations. According to Kaplan & Owings  (2010), assessments give feedback to the teacher in the form of data and provides a clear understanding of the knowledge and skills that students have developed at the end of each learning activity. Instructors use the information from the assessment data to determine the strengths of the students and areas that need improvement. In this context, this study will consider the objective-based and performance based assessments to elaborate further on assessment and explore its significance in the achievement of learning objectives.

Objective-Based Assessment

Objective-based assessment focuses on evaluating what learners have accomplished in a specific learning objective for a given learning activity. As Westwood (2013) elaborates, when using objective-based assessment, evaluation of learning must closely align with the stated learning objective, regardless of how it is carried out. In essence, this method of assessment focuses narrowly on the student getting basic skills and does not necessarily measure the ability of the learner to solve complex or even real-world problems. The goal of the objective-based assessment is to develop the specific objectives, which the students are supposed to achieve. In order to understand objective-based assessment, this study will use hypothetical data from a science learning activity.

Grade 3 Elementary Science Test

Habitat (Flora and Fauna)

Learning Goals

At the end of the lesson, students should be able to:

  1. Observe and identify different types of plants (flora)
  2. What plants need for them to grow
  3. Describe how humans and animals use plants
  4. Describe the relationship between animals and plants

Instructions

This is a general science lesson, which has been progressive for one week. The teacher has been giving instructions to the students. The learners have been reading from their textbooks and will be required to demonstrate what they have learned by answering multiple-choice questions. The test contains five multiple questions. Students must record their answers to the questions on a separate answer sheet. 

Performance Task Prompt

  1. Plants use energy to make food. Where does this energy come from?

A. Water

B. Sun

C. Soil

D. Manure

  1. What part of a plant absorbs, stores nutrients, and provides support to plants?

A. Leaves

B. Fruits

C. Stem

D. Roots

  1. Plants take in carbon monoxide from the air, what do plants give in return that animals depend on?

A. food

B. Fruits

C. Oxygen

D. Roots

  1. Sun is a part of the food chain, in what order is energy transferred?

A. animals       sun       plants

B. sun       plants       animals

C. Sun        animals       plants

D. Plant      animals      sun

  1. The following are parts of a plant. Which one is not?

A. Stem

B. Leaf

C. Flower

D. Rose

Performance Assessment Criteria

Evaluative CriteriaPoints ExpectedJaneRichardJohnRuthRodgersChristopher
Question 1B 1 pointBBBBBB
Question 2D 1 pointDDDDDD
Question 3C 1 pointCBCADC
Question 4B 1 pointCBBCBB
Question 5D 1 pointADCDCD
Points scored5 points

Objectives Measured in the Assessment

When using objective-based assessment, objectives must be specified for effective evaluation. According to Westwood (2013) the significance of outlining the learning objectives is to specify the knowledge, skills, strategies, and values that the student should be able to demonstrate at the end of the lesson. In this case, the learning objectives are outlined in the learning goals section and specifies what the students are expected to do and accomplish at the end of the test.

Student Strengths and Areas of Improvement

The hallmark of a successful assessment includes meaningful experiences that engage students intellectually with science content. Ideally, the students were expected to draw upon previous knowledge acquired from the learning activities to be able to complete the assessment. The questions were picked randomly from the learning activity and students expected to demonstrate their knowledge or the habitat. From the assessment data and compared with the expected score, Christopher performed exemplary well. Similarly, and compared to their peer Christopher, Richard and John also performed well and almost met all the learning objectives. A critical analysis shows that the students were able to comprehend the learning activities, retain knowledge and applies it to the assessment. Based on this information, we can deduce that at least half of the class had a good grasp of what the habitat (Flora) is all about. On the other hand, Jane, Ruth, and Rodgers did not fully meet the learning objectives. As compared to their peers, the three managed to score 3 points out of the expected 5 points. Essentially, from the assessment scores, it seems that the three were not fully intellectually engaged. It can also be viewed as the students’ inability to make sense of the learning activity, and thus were unable to complete the test successfully.

Aligning the Assessment with the Student Learning Objectives

Before designing and implementing learning activities, instructors are expected to define their learning objectives, which act as a guide in developing the appropriate assessment (Linder, 2017). Ideally, the assessment did not fully support the content validity of the learning objectives. Nonetheless, at least half of the learning objectives aligned with the evaluation tasks; but the other outcomes were not fully assessed. In light of this, the assessment did not comprehensively address the learning objectives. Consequently, in such a case where learning objectives are not fully evaluated, students are more likely to assume the outcomes are not important. Thus, changes should be made to strengthen the alignment between assessment and learning goals.

Performance-Based Assessment

Ultimately, performance-based assessment is a direct and systematic observation that evaluates the actual performance of the student with pre-determined performance criteria (Luongo-Orlando, 2003). The assessment enables the teacher to assess the specific skills and competencies that the student has gained from a particular learning program. When designing a performance evaluation task, teachers must first list the specific knowledge and skills that students must demonstrate at the end of the lesson. The second step involves designing a performance work that will enable the pupils to demonstrate the knowledge gained and skills. The third step involves developing clear performance criteria, with a grading rubric. In order to have a clear understanding of what performance-based assessment entails; hypothetical data will be used for the evaluation of results. Evaluation of results will consider the objectives of the evaluation, the student strengths, and areas of improvement, and adjustments necessary for aligning the assessment with the goals for student learning.

Classification of Plants

Elementary Level

Learning Goals

At the end of the learning activity, students will be expected to:

  1. Display their understanding of the various plants and their characteristics
  2. Demonstrate their ability to specify key defining features of the category
  3. Demonstrate their capacity to sort the plants accurately into different categories
  4. Demonstrate their ability to use data collection techniques and resources. 

Performance Task Prompt

Students will work in pairs and list as many plants as possible. They will come up with a classification system that will focus on the main characteristics of the plants and align the plants in the right categories. Sample categories will include plants with no proper root systems also called mosses or liverworts, ferns, coniferous trees, and flowering plants.

The students will have to consult various sources in the classroom charts, library, and adults to get this information and to enable them to classify the plants accurately. The pupils should also ensure that they turn in a list of all the resources they used and explain the most useful ones and least useful ones.

Performance Assessment Classification

Evaluative CriteriaPoints ScoredJaneRichardJohnRuthRodgersChristopher
Students listed at least 50 different plants10101010101010
Students classified plants into categories of mosses or liverworts, ferns, coniferous, and flowering plants20181719151616
Students accurately sort the plants into the various categories10657667
Students accurately listed the resources they used and classified them from the most useful to least useful5343423
Students presented their work with correct spellings and punctuations5445444
Total Possible Points504241443938

Objectives Measured in the Assessment

When using performance-based assessment, teachers must be able to identify the learning goals that students are expected to attain during the learning activity. The objectives are guiding principles in the design of the performance task and the performance criteria. In this case, the objectives being measured in the assessment are outlined in the learning goals section and reflect the knowledge and skills the student must master at the end of the unit of study.

Student Strengths and Areas for Improvement

Ideally, the assessment data indicates the ability of the learner to grasp and apply knowledge and skills acquired during the learning activities. From the data presented, it is clear that the students do not have a problem with listing of plants. In the case of the students’ ability to classify the plants in their respective categories, at least half of the students did not have a problem with the exercise. Jane who also scored highly in the test demonstrates great strength in content knowledge. Similarly, comparing the rest of the students with the best performed, we can say that their mastery of the content was average. In addition to the strengths, we cannot ignore the fact that, the students demonstrated strong mastery in spellings and punctuations in their work. Consequently, every student learns, and no student has the same culture, learning strengths, background knowledge, or experiences. This means, apart from student strengths, there will always be areas of improvement. In this case, the students had apparent weakness in research and identifying the usefulness of the listed resources from the most to the least. In short, we can conclude that the students did not accurately list the resources used for the completion of the test. We cannot also ignore the fact that Richard scored lowest in correctly sorting the plants according to their categories. 

Aligning the Assessment with the Student Leaning Objectives

When creating a unit of study, teachers must establish measurable learning objectives and work to develop assessments aligned with the stated learning outcomes. When properly designed, assessment can help the instructor to understand better what the students are learning (Linder, 2017). Virtually, aligning the assessment with the learning objectives is possible by first identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the students and working with them. In this case, the shortcomings of the students are in their research skills, which the teacher should work with the students to improve their research skills. For instance, the teacher should define research as it applies to the assignment, break it into small manageable parts, and elaborate to the students the importance of referencing their work. The teacher can also help the students improve their research skills by highlighting the important sections in the books and encouraging them to practice them to harness their research skills. Similarly, for successful alignment, the assessment should be accurate and useful. Poorly and inaccurately developed evidence will not provide the valuable evidence to ascertain a student learning. In fact, it might even be misleading for the teacher and the students as well. 

References

Kaplan, L. S., & Owings, W. A. (2010). American education: Building a common foundation. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Linder, K. (2017). Hybrid teaching and learning, tl 149. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Luongo-Orlando, K. (2003). Authentic assessment: Designing performance-based tasks for achieving language arts outcomes. Markham, Ont: Pembroke Publishers.

Westwood, P. S. (2013). Inclusive and adaptive teaching: Meeting the challenge of diversity in the classroom. London: Routledge.

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