Why Do We Assess?

Without a doubt assessment is crucial for the learning process, just like the quote states it is the means through which it is determined if the goals set forth have been met or not.

There are several reasons assessment must happen in the learning environment but essentially because it is needed for learning and effective teaching. Assessment compels teachers to question themselves and what they are doing to accomplish objectives. Another important reason is that it provides a means to assess what has been done and it offers a chance to make changes and adjustments if needed. Assessment is the reflection of good instruction; it should be ongoing and it should provide insight of what is happening with student skill development and knowledge acquisition, individually and as a group. The aim of assessment should be to provide students with better learning opportunities through situations that mirror their own learning and the opportunities they’ve had to do so. Bransford, Brown and Cocking (1999) state in How People Learn that “Individuals acquire a skill much more rapidly if they receive feedback about the correctness of what they have done.” Therefore to provide proper feedback we must assess in an objective manner, not only at the end, but throughout the whole process.

Assessment should not be perceived as “busy work” and left to traditional testing, especially in our environment where our day to day is not about memorizing content but about skill development. Learning activities can be the assessment itself, but teachers tend to have a hard time moving away from the old fill-in-the-blanks or multiple choice. It may seem difficult at times to evaluate another person’s perception and opinion on a certain matter, but the target must be always in plain sight. It is the evidence, the supporting ideas, and the factual argument that make an opinion worthwhile. Some may even say that it is not possible to assess higher order thinking skills because they become way more personal, but allow me to leave you with this; If the quality of a doctor, a meal, an athlete, an artist, or even a piece of writing can be determined, Why can’t higher order thinking skills be assessed?