The Importance of Educational Assessment: Tools and Techniques for Assessing Your Students

In this educational assessment guide, we’ll answer questions such as:

What is the purpose of educational assessment?
What are the benefits of assessments?
What are the main types of assessment?
What is the difference between evaluation and assessment?

Formative assessment can be any assessment that first and foremost promotes students’ learning. Many refer to this type of assessment as assessment “for” learning. In contrast, summative assessment, or assessment “of” learning, looks at grades or scores that give a final judgment or evaluation of proficiency. Assessment “for” learning is usually more informal and includes aspects of teaching. It is formative because it gathers evidence that helps teachers better meet the learning needs of students as well as empowering students to be change agents in their achievement. A host of studies have shown that when formative assessment is implemented effectively, it can greatly enhance, or even double, the speed of student learning. This guide provides specific examples of educational assessment tools, why assessment is important in gauging student comprehension, and how you can implement assessment techniques into your own course.

The importance of educational assessment

Educational assessment is one of the most talked about topics in higher education today. Despite the admirable goal of improving student learning, the trend toward greater accountability through increased academic testing carries with it a diverse range of educational assessment tools, methodologies, perspectives, and stakeholders.

If today’s mandates for educational testing has you searching for answers, take a dive into the following articles and products that cover topics such as forms of assessment, cognitive demand levels, formative and summative assessments, alternative assessment methods, and evaluative assessment.

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Types of educational assessment

While most faculty stick with the tried-and-true quiz and paper assessment strategies for their online courses, the wide range of technologies available today offers a variety of assessment options beyond the traditional forms. But what do students think of these different forms? And more importantly, what types of educational assessment work best for your course and your students?

A few educational assessments that we will cover:

  • A learning assessment technique (LAT) is a three-part integrated structure that helps teachers to first identify significant learning goals, then to effectively implement the kinds of learning activities that help achieve those goals, and finally—and perhaps most importantly—to analyze and report on the learning outcomes that have been achieved from those learning activities.
  • Word Clouds. Word clouds are images composed of words associated with concepts, questions, or reactions sought by an instructor; they are fast, engaging, and can provide an emotional connection for students. Think of the powerful insights a facilitator gains by simply asking students to report a single word describing how they feel about their progress on a project? choice?”). Wordle and TagCloud are two popular choices for creating word clouds.
  • Focused Listing. Focused listing can be used before, during, or after a lesson. This method helps you to gauge student learning.
  • Elevator Pitch. As a review activity, ask students to summarize main ideas or key topics in fewer than 60 seconds. A fun variation of this approach is to have students present to a classmate acting as a well-known personality or theorist who works in your discipline.

Browse the articles and products below to find what educational assessments will work best for your course!

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Educational assessment tools

Most conventional assessment strategies provide limited opportunities for instructors to realign teaching methods and revisit topics that students have not understood well. Teachers can communicate with students individually, but time constraints may prevent multiple individual conversations. Some students in the classroom are reluctant to ask questions and admit confusion. Find out how to overcome these difficulties with specific educational assessment tools. Below are just a few assessment tools that you’ll find within the articles and products.

  • Continuous and Rapid Testing (CaRT): Improves communication between teachers and students
  • CAP Model : Offers students diverse possibilities to express their understandings of course content, though the explicit aim of the creative component was to center non-dominant cultural ways of knowing, being, and making sense of the world.
  • Pre-formative assessment: This refers to assessments given while students are learning new material independently, before any group interaction has taken place.

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Each 20-Minute Mentor is $19 for individual, on-demand, one-week access, and each Magna Online Seminar is $39 for individual, on-demand, one-week access.


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