The Curriculum Roadmap:
Chapter Six: Making Assessment Relevant
Making assessment authentic allows learners more opportunities for relevant application of skills. The instructor engages learners in a range of formative and summative assessment tasks that are directly related to the learning outcomes of the curriculum. These tasks require the application of knowledge and skills in real or authentic contexts. “Hands-on” exercises and real life problems and situations are used wherever possible. Instructors design assessment opportunities to allow for a true representative or an actual performance of a skill. For example, learners actually do writing for real audiences, rather than answering questions about writing or taking spelling tests.
During formative assessment tasks, instructors make observations that allow learners to know how they are doing at a given learning task. Learners are also involved in self-assessment tasks to monitor their own learning. As learners develop skills, the instructor and the learner identify parts of the task that the learner does know and those that he does not know, or is unable to do. The results of formative assessment tasks are used to inform and improve instruction. Formative assessment tasks also provide learners with important information about expectations while giving them a target or a goal for which to strive.
Summative assessment occurs at the end of a unit or a group of units of instruction or at the end of the course. Summative assessment is used to determine learners’ skills and knowledge, and the effectiveness of the course. The learner’s demonstration of generic skills and learning outcomes, and the culminating assessment of the teaching/learning process throughout the course, is summarized to arrive at a final grade or range. Often items included in the summative assessment are “weighted.” Consistent with a collaborative relationship, the weighting of assignments, projects, or tests may be negotiated with the learner.
The final mark in Level 3 Communications is determined by considering all the assessment activities. It is based on items such as written assignments, speaking and listening activities, and development in reading skills. Often, the “weighting” of specific assignments will vary from individual to individual based on her strengths and preferences. For example, one individual might prefer the final mark in a given assignment to rely more upon an oral presentation, while another might want greater emphasis on a written report. However, all four strands of Communications will be included in the final mark. Dependent upon learner needs, your delivery organization may determine a specific weight be applied to a given area of the curriculum. For example, the organization may decide that the reading skills are a priority for learners; therefore, reading would be weighted the highest on its course assessment plan.
A Sample Assessment Overview
10% Reading Log and/or Reflective Journal
30% Reading Comprehension
30% Writing Portfolio
20% Speaking and Listening Skills
Assessment Tasks and Tools
Varieties of techniques are used in Communications to assess learners’ progress. Acquisition of knowledge (factual and procedural), use of cognitive strategies, and development of metacognitive awareness are considered when designing assessment tasks and when assessing learners’ progress.
Diversity in assessment tasks reflects the diverse learning needs of adults. Instructors will emphasize different skills and strategies depending on the needs of the learner. Some learners may need a greater emphasis on development of sustained reading skills; others may need more time to develop writing skills or to focus on different Conventions of English. Depending on the structure of the class, projects that require the application of skills and knowledge from several subjects may be used. In other settings, team projects may be replaced by individual reports. The instructor, therefore, has significant flexibility in determining how to assess the processes and products required by the curriculum guide.
Most often, assessment activities are determined during the planning of the course. Generally, the instructor considers the following questions:
Assessment activities have a clear purpose and reflect instructional strategies and content/generic skills. Before being assessed, learners will have had many opportunities to develop and use the skills; learners will have practised using the writing process, for example, before being asked to demonstrate the process in an assessment activity. The standards or expectations for each task are clearly outlined and can often be developed collaboratively with the learners.
Authentic assessment tasks include such tasks as problem-solving scenarios, reflective journals, projects, performances, computer simulation tasks, and portfolios. Samples of some assessment tools are provided in this chapter. If used, these examples may be modified to suit the needs of learners in your Communications course.
You will note that sample quizzes and exams are not provided. Instructors will develop quizzes and exams to reflect the specific content and resources used in their courses. Tests will reflect application of skills and knowledge in addition to recall of information.