Definition of assessment
Assessment in teaching and learning has been defined in various ways by different authors. In general, assessment is defined as any systematic procedures for collecting, reviewing and using information about learners, so as to make improvement where necessary. This means that assessment is the process of identifying, gathering and interpreting information about learners’ learning. In general, assessment is an ongoing interactive process, in which the teacher and learner are involved.
All definitions of assessment point to the fact that assessment is a process by which the teacher gather information about the effectiveness of teaching and learning and the appropriateness of the course or curriculum being implemented. It is more than simply giving marks or grades although that may be a part of it. Assessment plays a crucial role in the education process because it guides teachers on the choice of learning tasks and the approaches to such tasks. Assessment also guides on which aspects of the curriculum need reviewing.
Function and purpose of assessment
The central purpose of assessment is to provide information on learners’ achievement and progress and set the direction for an on-going improvement in the teaching/learning process. Some key functions of assessment include the following:
to identify learners’ current performance
to aid learning
for review, transfer and certification
to check on the overall efficacy of the teaching/learning program
to determine any particular learners’ stage of development
to gain information about learners’ specific instructional needs
to identify any concepts or procedures which may need to be re-taught or reviewed
to motivate and direct learning
to provide feedback to learners on their performance
4.1 Introduction to assessment and evaluation Formative vs. summative assessment