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Forms of Assessment

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There are many methods you can choose from to evaluate your students' learning: short-answer tests, essay tests, multiple-choice tests, etc. The type of evaluation used should reflect the goals and objectives of the course. It is important to assess the suitability of each method for gathering specific kinds of information. You may want to consult an experienced colleague in your faculty or department, or the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Educational Technologies for more detailed information about the characteristics of the different evaluation methods. Each evaluation method can be used for three assessment procedures that can be characterized according to time of use: preassessment, formative assessment and summative assessment (Allen and Rueter, 1990). Preassessment This is done before any instruction takes place and involves evaluating the students' existing knowledge on the different topics to be covered during the course. The purpose of this evaluation is to assess students' current knowledge or skills in order to discover areas that should receive the most attention. Formative Assessment This takes place during the course. It is used to assess a part of the course (a section or subsection), or after you have covered one of the objectives. Formative assessment allows you and your students to identify areas that might require additional work or to verify how well you have attained your objectives so far. Formative assessment is done for purposes of review and revision. Summative Assessment This takes place once you have covered all the material in the course. Your measurement should include different types of evaluation (see the following section for an explanation of the different types of instruments). This assessment enables you to judge the success of your instructional strategies once the course is completed and to evaluate the possible need for modification of the content, strategies or objectives related to your course.

The Four R’s of Effective Evaluation

  1. Relevant - the material being tested is related to the course content
  2. Reliable - expectations are clearly communicated; there is consistent marking and frequent feedback about performance
  3. Recognizable - class activities prepare students for their evaluations
  4. Realistic - the amount of information obtained is balanced by the amount of work required; don’t forget that students are taking three or four other courses

(adapted from ‘The Four R’s of Effective Evaluation”, Marilla Svinicki, The Teaching Professor, Nov. 1993, p3.)

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