Here’s a fact- it can be all of those things.
But, what are the different types of assessments?
You’ll be surprised to learn that there exist various online assessments, both in education and business. All of these are different from each other, follow a different method, and serve a different purpose.
Knowing when and how to use each type can be crucial in ensuring that you are able to ensure success no matter what the learning style is.
To help you out here, this article will take you on a tour of all the different types of assessment in education, their purposes, tips to choose the best assessment type, and more.
Types of Assessments
Even though assessments come in all shapes and sizes, there is one thing common in all of them- they all provide a snapshot of learners’ understanding at a particular time in the learning process.
That’s why all the assessment types can seem confusing to sort out if you’re new to them. However, distinguishing one type of assessment from another, learning their implementation, and their different purposes can help you understand the best use of assessments.
Let’s look at the 7 types of assessments in education:
1. Diagnostic Assessment:
One of the most common types of assessments in learning is the diagnostic assessment. It is a set of written questions that assess learners’ current knowledge base.
It also provides a snapshot of where your learners currently stand – allowing you to make informed instructional choices. You can use the information gathered from a diagnostic assessment to create the next set of instructions.
- Short quizzes
- Student interviews
- Student reflections
- Graphic organizers
- Classroom discussions
Goal: To find out learners’ knowledge that they possess before carrying out the instructions.
When to Conduct: It helps form the foundation of future instructions as it’s conducted at the beginning of the academic year, beginning of a unit, beginning of a lesson, etc.
2. Formative Assessment:
Formative assessment helps find out how learners are progressing through instruction.
It is used to identify misconceptions, struggles, and learning gaps along the way and assess how to close those gaps. Which in turn, helps shape learning, boost students’ abilities, and helps them understand that the final goal is to improve learning, not increase grades.
- Weekly quizzes
- Group projects
- Progress reports
- Class discussions
- Entry and exit tickets
Goal: To track learners’ progress and provide feedback. Based on the feedback, instructors can decide what to focus on in terms of their instructions.
When to Conduct: It is usually conducted regularly throughout the instruction process.
3. Summative Assessment:
Summative assessment helps evaluate student learning, knowledge, proficiency, or success at the conclusion of an instructional period, like a unit, course, or program.
It is used to measure the effectiveness of the instruction and its benefits in the long term.
- Mid-term exams
- End-term exams
- Final project
- Unit tests
- Standardized tests
Goal: To improve knowledge retention of units and lessons year over year by learning the instructions’ impact in the end.
When to Conduct: When you need to assess learners’ knowledge after the instructions.
4. Benchmark Assessment:
Benchmark assessment is used to measure the academic progress of large groups of students at periodic intervals.
Considered as one of the most important types of assessment in teaching, this assessment helps instructors assess if a group of learners is at par with the pre-defined learning standards.
It can also help instructors identify the best course of action required to fill the learning gaps by arming them with the knowledge to identify different learning behaviors.
- Chapter tests
- Quarterly exams
- End-term exams
Goal: To implement the best techniques & teaching styles to accommodate the learners’ needs.
When to Conduct: At the beginning of the curriculum when you need to plan teaching strategies.
5. Ipsative Assessment:
Ipsative assessments are used to compare learners’ current performance with their previous performances.
They’re more personalized than any other form of assessment as they tell the learners how far they’ve progressed in their learning.
Ipsative assessments help build a framework under which the learner and instructor work together to identify their strengths and weaknesses based on their assessment results.
- Psychometric evaluations
- Scored assessments
Goal: To measure the learner’s performance in the coming term.
When to Conduct: When you need to identify learners’ pain points and are struggling to make adjustments to the instructions.
6. Norm-referenced Assessment:
Norm-referenced assessment is used to compare a learner’s performance with a group of learners of the same grade level.
In simple words, a learner’s score is compared against the average score of a group of learners who’ve already taken the assessment.
The group used for comparison is called the “norming group,” and the scores used for comparison are norm-referenced, generally expressed as a percentage.
Goal: To find out the highest and lowest performing learners.
When to Conduct: When you need to identify learners who may have specific educational needs or shortcomings that require special assistance in terms of learning.
7. Criterion-referenced Assessment:
Criterion-referenced assessment is used to assess learners against a set of pre-defined standards or criteria.
The instructors set certain goals or objectives known as criteria at the beginning of a course. How well the learners achieve those goals is described as different levels.
The criterion-referenced assessment helps instructors identify knowledge and understanding of learners as defined in the intended learning outcomes.
Further, it enables instructors to provide feedback to learners about what is required of them for improvement.
- Advanced Placement Exams
- National Assessment of Educational Progress
- Driving Test to obtain driver’s license
Goal: To measure a learner’s level of skill or mastery over a specific body of knowledge.
When to Conduct: When there’s a need to make inferences from test performance about what a learner can do.
In our next section, learn how to narrow down your assessment options and choose the best one.
How to Choose the Best Assessment Type
You must choose an assessment type that helps evaluate your learners in a way that fits the goals of your instructions.
We’ve shared some tips to help you choose the best type of assessment:
1. Take Into Account Different Learning Styles
All of your learners’ learning styles vary widely, and the strengths and challenges concerning the assessment vary as well. When choosing an assessment for learning, you need to consider that variation.
By taking into account the various learning styles of your learners, you are more likely to offer equal opportunities for every learner to demonstrate their knowledge.
You can accomplish this by creating different types of assessment tests with different types of questions, for example, multiple-choice questions, image-based questions, hotspot questions, record-video questions, essay-type questions, and more.
2. Consider Assessment Intervals
Flooding your learners with a series of assessments won’t help you if your learners need only a single assessment.
Consider the frequency with which your learners should be assessed to reach the desired learning outcomes. And while you’re at it, also consider the factors that drive learning, such as your learners’ motivation to learn, attention, and energy.
Try various intervals such as weekly, quarterly, and half-yearly, and choose the one that best supports your assessment needs.
3. Match Learning Goals to Assessment
What you assess is what your learners study, are engaged with, and explore in more depth.
Begin with what you want learners to know and be able to do. This way you can design and choose assessments that will help them demonstrate the appropriate knowledge & skills.
Decide the learning outcomes, and then make a grid. Place the learning outcomes across one axis and the assessment demonstrating their achievement on the other axis.
Refer to the following table as an example:
In this way, you’ll be able to double-check to be certain that each of the learning outcomes has been assessed.
If you make it clear to learners how each assessment furthers the goals of the instruction, they’ll be able to make informed choices about how to spend their limited learning time to achieve the course goals.
4. Collect Data on Students’ Progress
Despite choosing the correct form of assessment and the intervals that best support your assessment needs, there will still be some topics or units of instruction where your learners will fall short.
To find this out, you can try finding out the answers to questions like:
- Which test questions are commonly missed?
- Which topics are difficult to grasp?
- What misconceptions do learners have?
In that case, you can identify weaknesses in instruction and assessment choices and make adjustments as needed.
5. Revise Assessment Choices
You need to identify gaps in your instructions or the effectiveness of your assessments to measure your learners’ understanding.
This means that you need to modify your assessments to extend better learning support to your learners.
Try to revise the ways you assess knowledge and skills to fill the learning gap. You must do it right after you evaluate an assessment and analyze the results.
The more learners you can move towards a deep understanding of the topics, the more effective you are as instructors.
Effective Assessments = Better Learning Outcomes
Successful online assessment is a never-ending process. Ideally, you can create many types of assessments and use them in any learning environment. But, no matter which type you choose, you must continue to evaluate your assessments.
Use the data from previous assessments to identify what worked well and what still needs improvement. Also, explore different types of assessment tools available on the web. With the right practices and the best resources, your assessments will continue to become more effective.
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