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7 Different Types of Assessments You Should Know About

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What comes to your mind when you hear the word “assessment”? Is it a test, an exam, or an interview for a job?

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.

Examples:

  • 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. 

Examples:

  • 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. 

Examples:

  • 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. 

Examples:

  • 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.

Examples:

  • 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.

Examples:

  • Standardized college admissions tests such as SAT & GRE
  • IQ tests
  • Physical assessments

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.

Examples: 

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.

What Purpose Do Different Types of Assessment Serve?

Assessments help measure the effectiveness of teaching practices by matching learners’ performance with specific learning objectives. The following points will help you understand this better:

1. Support Learning

The way learners learn and what they learn depends greatly on how they think they’ll be assessed. Informing the learners about the assessment practices that you are going to follow can help them decide: 

  • What to study 
  • How to study 
  • How much time to spend on a subject or topic 

By learning what they need to do to outshine their peers in an assessment through an articulated syllabus, you can help learners rise high to the occasion. 

2. Drive Instructions

A diagnostic assessment informs instructors what learners know or do not know at the outset, helping them set the direction of their instructions.

When conducted well, the data gathered with the assessment can help you bridge the gap between learners’ existing knowledge and the desired outcome. 

You must find out what the learners already know and use the existing knowledge as a stepping stone to relevant instructions.

Similarly, when you conduct the formative assessment, you can use the data gathered to revise and refine your instructions or practices to meet the needs of your learners. 

3. Indicate Progress

Effective assessment provides learners with a sense of what they know and don’t know about a topic or a subject. 

The feedback they get from their instructors helps learners reflect upon their learning patterns and indicates the aspects that need improvement. 

When constructed well, the feedback resulting from the assessment can help learners become aware of their strengths and learning challenges in relation to the learning outcomes. 

4. Improve Teaching Practices

Reflection on learners’ progress offers instructors valuable insights into the effectiveness of their teaching practices. 

By systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting data, they can find out if the learners’ level of knowledge matches the desired outcomes. 

The data gathered from feedback informs the instructors of the practices they need to build upon, cut back, or strengthen during the next instruction. 

As a result of the assessment, you can reinforce effective instructions and revise the ineffective ones.

Watch: How to Create Online Tests

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:

tails-learning-outcomes

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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About the author

Kamy is an eLearning & training expert. He has been published in eLearningIndustry, TrainingMag. As a corporate trainer at ProProfs, he has been instrumental in building an awesome eLearning management system that has simplified learning and training for thousands of customers across the globe. Follow Kamy @kamyanderson

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