Assessment and Learning

Introduction to Assessment for Learning :
Assessment for learning focuses on the gap between where a learner is in their learning, and where they need to be in their learning cycle.
There are two main purposes of assessment.
1. For the student to receive multiple attempts to practice and to demonstrate understanding of a specific topic or subject content. Timely feedback from the teacher helps the student to develop necessary skills and improve his/ her achievement.
2. For the teacher to analyze student progress for the purpose of modifying and refining the teaching/learning activities to better meet student needs.
There are three types of assessment, diagnostic, formative, and summative.

Diagnostic assessment occurs at the beginning of the teaching/learning cycle. This type of assessment will provide the teacher with an understanding of the prior knowledge and skills a student brings to a unit, as well as the strengths and specific learning needs of an individual or groups of students in relation to the expectations that will be taught.
Diagnostic assessment is conducted prior to and during teaching and learning to determine:
* what existing knowledge, skills, attitudes, interests, and/or needs the student has
* the range of individual differences
* what program plans and/or modifications are required to meet the needs of individuals or groups of students

Formative assessment is an ongoing collection of information that occurs throughout the day/unit/term that enables teachers to track, support and guide students continuous progress and improvement towards achievement of the expectations. It is this ongoing assessment that determines what the student knows and is able to do and can apply, and points to the next steps for teaching and learning.
Formative assessment is conducted throughout teaching and learning to:
* keep the teacher and students focused on the purpose of the lesson/activity/unit/program
* provide information to the teacher and students about the progress being made
* determine the effectiveness of instruction in helping students to achieve the purpose

Summative assessment occurs at the end of a period of learning and provides students with opportunities to demonstrate their achievement during a period of time. Summative assessments contribute to the grading of students,

How the results of summative assessments are used as part of quality reviews .
In Kingston College results of Summative assessment grades are used as part of
* Qualification and self assessment review – Internal
* Ofsted Inspection report – External

Qualification and self assessment review – QSAR
In the Department of Mathematics a qualification Self Assessment Review is conducted in November , March and June. This is done in GCSE and Advanced Level team meetings held three times a year.
In the March Agenda, grades obtained at the final examination held in June/ July in the current year are analyzed and compared against two previous academic years. This comparison is done for each module at all levels. i.e.GCSE, AS and AL.A table consisting vital information is produced.
A sample is given below.
EMA 1023FNUAS MATHEMATICS | No. of starts | Success rate | Benchmark success rate | Retention rate | Benchmark retention rate | Achievement rate | Benchmark Achievement rate |
08/09 | | | | | | | |
07/08 | | | | | | | |
06/07 | | | | | | | |
Success rate is compared across three consecutive years and against the benchmark success rate. Reasons and issues are discussed for the pass rate to come down. For example , the reason for the pass rate to come down is poor attendance the action is to liaise with the tutors using red or yellow card system to find out the reason and discuss with the learner or parents if and when necessary in order to get them to attend lessons on a regular basis. Issues and actions to be taken with the person responsible and the time frame allocated are discussed and noted down. At this point of the year , learners at risk are identified with reasons.
In November Agenda, teaching team identifies their strengths and areas of development ,based on employer report, student feed back and external examiner/verifier report in order to achieve a higher success rate. Any issues and key actions are also taken into consideration. Outstanding issues are carried forward.
In June Agenda , nearer to final examinations, teaching team draw up strategies for improving retention and achievement and this is based on module scores of learners during the year.
Ofsted Inspection Report ??“
In Effectiveness of provision section in the ofsted inspection report, success rates of the learners are analyzed and the college is graded as satisfactory in the area of learner achievement and success rates.
In the learner achievement section of the inspection report , success rates on mainstream and work based qualifications, by qualification type are compared to the national rates for colleges of a similar type .

Grades of Formative assessments such as end of unit tests, mock tests research tasks and drop in tests in the class are used to monitor progress of learners. Performance in formative tests such as end of unit tests are taken into consideration when deciding the learner??™s current working at grade. These grades are recorded on KCOD and used to give feedback to parents and learners at parent teacher meetings and student one to one meetings. Formative and summative assessments both are a very effective tool when deciding the extent of learning support needed for a particular group or an individual learner.

Evaluation of my assessment task:

The assessment I have designed is a summative assessment given to Science Foundation Degree students At the end of the second semester and the assessment is based on the statistics module they learn over a period of four weeks. The assessment weighting is 25% of the final grading in Maths.The minimum final grading in Mathematics at the end of the year should be 40% for students to proceed to the chosen degree program.
The specific learning outcomes assessed by these assessments are given below.
Learners will be able to :
1. Analyze a statistical problem and plan an appropriate strategy
2. Process , analyze and present data appropriately
3. Use statistical evidence to identify inferences, make deductions and draw conclusions.

The introduction written by a leaner allows me to assess the first learning outcome.
Learners have to identify the most appropriate set of data for each task and they should identify the aim of the task,
For example for the first part of the task which is to analyze the characteristic of the patients students should consider both weight and the TG levels at the baseline and after 8 weeks. For the final part of the task they should calculate the difference of TG levels and the weight from baseline to 8 weeks,
In the introduction they state their aims clearly in statistical terms and select and develop an appropriate plan to meet these aims giving reasons for their choice. They need to foresee and plan for practical problems in carrying out
the tasks.

The second learning outcome is assessed in all parts of the task. Learner should be able to process, analyze and present data appropriately . For example learner should be able to arrange data into groups if required and arrange them into frequency tables or tally charts. When analyzing data measures of spread and location for every group should be taken into consideration. When calculating measures such as mean and standard deviation , learner should use a variety of methods- graphical and numerical –

The third learning outcome is assessed in all parts of the task.
Learners should comment on patterns and give plausible reasons for exceptions. They should correctly
summarize and interpret graphs and calculations. .
.In the conclusion they need to evaluate the effectiveness of the overall strategy and recognize limitations of the work done, making suggestions for improvement.

The ways in which aspects of the minimum core are developed and assessed :

Learners are required to word process the work .All graphs should be done using Excel and formulae have to be produced in support of all calculations. Learners therefore gets the opportunity to develop ICT skills to a great extent.
Learners need to produce an Introduction and a conclusion to their work. This helps them to develop Literacy skills. All calculations helps them to develop their numeracy skills.

? Reliability and Validity :

Reliability? refers to the extent to which assessments are consistent.
It should not make any difference whether a student takes the assessment in the morning or afternoon; one day or the next.
The assessment I have designed is given to two different groups of students studying the same course and it has produced similar results. There is a strong positive correlation between the grades of the two groups. The assessment is reliable because it has produced similar results with a similar cohort of students.
Validity? refers to the accuracy of an assessment? ??“ The extent to which the content of the test matches the objectives.
Every task in my assignment measures one or more learning objectives of the topic Data Handling. The broad learning objective is that students should be able present and analyze data. Tasks in my assignment measures the following learning objectives.
* Analyze a statistical problem and plan an appropriate strategy
* Process , analyze and present data appropriately
* Use statistical evidence to identify inferences, make deductions and draw conclusions.

The assessment therefore measures what it is supposed to measure .
Equality and diversity:

The assessment is accessible to a diverse range of learners .Following measures are taken to make sure that the assessment is fair and does not discriminate against any learner.

Assessment tasks are written in clear and simple language.

Tasks and the spread sheet with data are available in large print and on colored paper.

Assessment tasks are set at different levels varying from very easy to very difficult. The assessment tasks are in other words flexible and inclusive .For example the first task can be attempted by every learner and the fourth task involves a more difficult phenomenon. A vey able learner can obtain a higher grade by attempting the task. Second task can be attempted by any learner but marks are allocated according the range of statistical methods used.

The assignment tasks do not use imperial measures as some International students are not familiar with imperial measurements.

Learners with disabilities ??“for example dyslexic learners – are given special consideration and given 3 extra days to submit the assignment.

There are no religious or cultural festivals that affect the completion of the assignment on time,

All learners have access to required equipment and material. They need to have access to a computer. If they do not possess a machine they have the facility to use machines in the Learning Resource Center.

To assess the learning outcomes mentioned in the previous section learners have to be given a task where they can analyze, interpret and present data and this piece of coursework provides the opportunity to draw graphs, perform calculations and interpret the results . Any other assessment method such as multiple choice or a time constraint assessment will not be able to assess all the learning outcomes in this particular topic. The learners need time to plan and carry out the task and present it in the form of a report, As these learners will be using the knowledge of Statistics in other science subjects such as Biology and Chemistry , the task has to be related to those subjects and this task certainly links Mathematics to Biology and Chemistry.


An account of giving the feedback

The learner I have chosen to provide feedback is a thirty year old female student, Stacey, who is planning on doing a degree course in sports science. She has been in my class since September 2009, almost half a year. She has done her GCSE Mathematics about 15 years ago and has not been in education since then. Before joining the degree program she has been working as a fitness instructor. Mathematics is a compulsory component in Science foundation degree and she has to get 40% or above to proceed to the first year of the degree. In the diagnostic test held at the beginning of the course she only managed to score 20%. She did not seem remember basic mathematical skills and techniques she learnt many years ago. In spite of her shaky start she managed to learn and master all the concepts taught in the class. She managed to achieve 60% in the exam held at the end of the first semester. Any feed back I have provided on any assessment , whether it be summative or formative , was very well received and implemented by her.
Her communication skills are excellent. Stacey is a highly motivated learner but lacks confidence in particularly mathematics. She understands a clear explanation and quickly grasps what is being taught in the class as she is focused and motivated. Nevertheless, she needs time to go over her notes before applying what she learnt. She takes more time than the majority to finish a task but does not leave gaps.

The feed back on her course work in Data Handling was given after two weeks from the date of submission . Before the feedback I went through all her attendance records , comments on KCOD by various tutors and her past exam marks just to get some background information ,
She has performed slightly better in Biology and Chemistry, In fact , Stacey has mentioned that she finds Maths challenging because she has forgotten everything she learnt in the secondary school.I am very aware that she struggles with some techniques when it comes to an exam due to lack of practice. I expected Stacey to do well in this Data Handling task as she is quite familiar with the techniques and concepts and she has had more time to complete the task. She has come for help and advice just to know whether she is on the right track.
I had her assignment and a model answer with me on the day of the feedback.
First Stacey was given the opportunity to do a self evaluation of her assessment task and she was expecting a somewhere between 70-80%.
Then I gave the marked assignment for her to glance through and commented on the things she has done well as I have indicated on the assignment. Then I moved on to the areas that she could not perform as expected and explained the written comments to her showing the mistakes she has made and the areas of improvement. I gave her the model answer and asked her to compare it to her answers .She found it very useful as she knew where exactly she lost marks and the correct approach to the task.
It was both written and oral feed back mostly explaining the comments written on her script. As the assignment involves graphs and mathematical calculations , it is necessary that I explain written comments to the learner for a better understanding.

In general I told Stacey that she needs to :

* Read the instructions carefully and do what is required avoiding unnecessary and lengthy calculations and explanations.

* Use the correct and the most appropriate formula for calculations

* Use the most appropriate method to perform a calculation ??“Using the shortest method for calculations to save time

* Avoid making careless mistakes in calculations

* Use the calculator more often to be familiar with the calculator keys.

* Do as many tasks as possible on the topic taught in the class before the next lesson ??“ What Stacey needs is practice. She is learning so many unfamiliar concepts over a period of one year and she needs to assert herself more than the rest of the group.

These points are taken into consideration when she is doing her class work and home work. I have provided her with information about reference material including websites such as ???my maths??™ and ???Mr. Barton Maths??™ .These websites consists of very effective power point presentations and activities which will help the learner to gain more practice in calculation techniques and can be used as a revision tool.
I have also asked her to attend maths work shops held in the Maths Department . As the work shops are conducted on one- one basis , it is a good opportunity for her to get additional help in her home work and class work.

I check her home work and comment on the progress she has made and provide her with guidance to help improve her Mathematical skills and ability.

I have also asked her see me if she needs to clarify matters outside her class hours. Stacey values and makes use of every opportunity given to her as she is a mature adult learner.

I have introduced her to another student who is a high achiever in the group. He is an adult learner who has mastered most of the techniques taught in the class and he helps Stacey with her queries most of the time.

This has been a very pleasant experience for me. Stacey is a very sensible adult who is very keen to raise her standards, Therefore she was ready to take everything on board in a very positive way. Usually I provide students with written feedback as I do several different groups and some groups do weekly unit tests, I find it very difficult to find time for individual one to one feedback. More often I have the tendency to choose learners who are not working at the expected level for a verbal one to one feedback. Stacey??™s encounter has made me realized that I should do this with every learner whenever possible.

Points for improving my practice

Drawing from the theories of learning and from my own experience I need to improve in following area when giving feedback..

1. Before giving feedback, be sure that there were clear agreements about goals established.? ?  I set goals ??“ target grade -at the beginning of the year , but I need to revisit them with every learner in the class reminding them what my expectations are.
2. Make sure that the relationship has sufficient trust. I need to build a good rapport with each and every learner so that both parties are comfortable when giving and receiving a feed back.
3. I need to be more aware of my nonverbal communication and tone particularly when giving feedback to a student who has not done well.? ? 
4. Be timely and give feedback immediately or as quickly as possible. Feedback has to be relevant and specific.
5. Be open and ready for a variety of outcomes. I cannot expect enthusiasm from every learner. If there is a request for example for more learning support, I need to act upon that as soon as possible.
6. Follow up is an essential part of a feedback process. I need to draw up plans which suits individual learners and support them to carry out the instructions or the remedial measures suggested in when giving the feedback.

Reference list:

Web sites:
Highland council, Highland learning and teaching toolkit, available at (December 2009)
Geoff petty, feedback ??“ medals and missions , available at ,( December 2009)
FCIT, Classroom assessment, available at (December 2009)
University of Sussex , Equality and diversity, available at ( December 2009)


Analyze a statistical problem and plan an appropriate strategy : | You have given a clear explanation of the study and selected appropriate data and strategy to analyze whether there is a relationship between the change in weight and the change and Triglyceride level .You have selected the two groups taking the difference from baseline to the eighth week.However there should be a more detailed explanation of the methods and strategies. For example ??“ PMCC the correlation coefficient is used to quantify the relationship and regression line is used to find the relationship between the change in weight and TG level. |
Process , analyze and present data appropriately | You have used a range of appropriate methods for recording data such as grouping data into appropriate groups and pictorial representations such as stem and leaf and cumulative frequency graphs.You have also used a range of statistical measures such as mean, median, mode and interquartile range. You have used the correct formula to calculate regression line and PMCC which is the most important part of the assignment.However when using pictorial representations such as stem and leaf make sure you use the whole set of data of all 45 patients. If you break the data into groups the stem and leaf diagram will not give you the true picture of the spread of data. |
Use statistical evidence to identify inferences, make deductions and draw conclusions | You have given the correct interpretation of all your findings, comparing all statistical measures of all four sets of data from the baseline to the eighth week. However , you have not commented on the strength of the relationship between change of weight in triglyceride level. This is what the study is all about. You have calculated the PMCC but it is very important that you comment |