When I was completing my Bachelor of Education I was lucky enough to be able to attend a guest lecture given by Richarch Zerbe entitled assessment
For Learning. In his lecture, he addressed three primary types or uses of assessment
that changed the way I thought about evaluation. The three types he identified are: assessment
of learning, assessment
for learning and assessment
as learning. While he was speaking specifically about assessing primary and secondary school children
, his lecture is directly applicable to teaching english
as a foreign language at any level or class.
of learning includes evaluation techniques such as summative assessment
s or final tests and report cards. This type of assessment
provides evidence of achievement and progress. Final tests and official assessment
of assignments or presentations are what my mind used to immediately jump to when I thought of ‘evaluation’ and ‘testing’, but Zerbe placed little value of this type on this type of assessment
, instead referring to it as merely a way to check to see if students have met their intended curriculum goals. He did, however, accept it as a necessary part of evaluation and stated that in order to be useful for the student, it is important to use descriptions of what they did well and what they need to improve on instead of letter grades or scores. Even though most academic institutes will insist on quantitative scores for record-keeping, qualitative assessment
s are more useful for students understanding how they did than simply getting a B stamped on the top of their work. Further, in order to be a fair assessment
of a student’s knowledge and understanding, it is imperative that they know what is expected of them if they want to achieve an A (or level 4, or 90%, etc). They need to be shown examples and the rubrics or guidelines by which the teacher
is going to evaluate them.
The second method of assessment
Zerbe identified is assessment
for learning. This type of assessment
includes formative and diagnostic testing as a way to inform teacher
s where students are and where they need support. Zerbe recommends using formative tests as a continuous investigative tool to take constant readings about students’ progress and positions. Instead of being used to officially evaluate students, teacher
s can use these tests or assessment
s to get an idea of how well students have grasped recent material and how ready they are to move on. There is little point rushing ahead if students have not understood or cannot apply
what they were previously taught, especially if the concepts build on each other.
Zerbe names the third type of assessment
as learning’. This type of assessment
is an active process where students personally monitor their own learning. The process of self-evaluation helps students understand the material and also understand themselves as learners better than always being told their mistakes and how to fix them. Zerbe recommends that we teach students how to give feedback and correct their own mistakes. Having to edit and correct their own mistakes (and those of others), albeit with guidance from the teacher
, is much more effective than always relying on the teacher
for answers. There are several ways this can be achieved; starting with the idea that assessment
should be done with students as opposed to to students. A few examples of this are giving direct feedback by holding (even brief) conferences with students where you discuss their work, having students complete checklists to see if they have included the necessary criteria and working in teams where students learn from each other. This type of assessment
is often underappreciated, but always invaluable as it develops meta-cognition, critical thinking skills, communication and interpersonal skills.
All three types of assessment
are useful in isolation, but when used in conjunction with each other, they are very effective teaching tools.
Zerbe, Richard. Guest Lecture. assessment
for Learning. University of British Columbia, British Columbia, canada
. 03 Feb 2010.