Different methods of assessment get used in educational systems all around the world. The question that arises, however, is whether the means of assessing students employed in schools are the right measure of their intelligence or not.
Assessments are kept in an educational system to promote student learning. That might not always be the case. Increasingly, assessments have become a rat race for gaining more marks, whether they get scored justly or not. Students often cheat or get their work done by someone else entirely, to score a better grade.
This makes us question the entire notion of assessments and their types. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the different forms of assessments and their pros and cons with regard to reliability and validity.
The first and perhaps the most common type of assessment are “fill in the blank,” multiple-choice questions with four answer choices, and true and false queries. All of these methods are targeted at checking whether the student has the basic factual knowledge regarding a concept. Over here, students do not have much space for writing long answers or to make something up. They are either right or wrong, so unless they very accurately understand the subject, they are more likely to give wrong answers.
So, the overall advantages are that they are easier to check for the teacher; students can get tested on broad concepts in a precise manner; the level of understanding of the students can get determined. On the other hand, the disadvantages are that there isn’t much space for the student to think aloud about the concepts getting taught in class, there is no margin for human error, the students could get the answers right by luck or via unfair means. In the case of the latter, this assessment type doesn’t seem to be the correct way of telling where an individual student’s level of understanding lies (Weimer, 2015)
A “Matching” test, as the name suggests, gives two lists of items to students where they have to match an item from the first list with an element of the other list. Such tests are usually done when the examiner is testing a course that includes a lot of dates, names, places, and events.
The advantages of this testing method are that it isn’t time-consuming to construct a paper on it, the results are very reliable, and there is less chance for error in marking the paper, which shows the students’ objective skills and knowledge.
While the disadvantages are as follows: this testing method is not appropriate to test knowledge that requires a deeper analytical understanding of concepts. Students might not apply their knowledge but just intuition and guesswork to match the answers.
So, guesswork may lead to the correct answers in which case; the method is not an accurate measure of the students’ scope of knowledge about a particular subject. It can be said, perhaps, that this testing method is only efficient with regards to the nature of the course getting taught (Stecher, 1997).
A portfolio is a very objective type of assessment. It includes different forms of works compiled by the students, which may consist of written work or presentations. It cumulatively shows a student’s performance. Portfolios are considered to be relevant even out of the education system as they represent how much an individual has achieved in his professional life. Individuals have a way to present their achievements and skills via a portfolio creatively.
From the perspective of an education system, portfolios allow a more diverse form of assessment. They will enable the teacher to understand the student’s personal creative and analytical skills, and also his knowledge over the subject getting taught. Since portfolios are also long-term, the gradual progress of the student throughout the semester can get analyzed. Portfolio assignments may also require group work or consistent guidance from the instructor, so this assessment type also encourages healthy interactions amongst students and teachers. The drawbacks of portfolios are that they are time-consuming and often cumbersome to create for the student and equally more difficult for the teacher to check and mark. They require comprehensive grading criteria (Wright, 2015).
One-to-one discussion is a type of oral assessment. It is used to test the students’ confidence and command on a particular topic. How much he can answer face to face based on his deep understanding regarding the subject getting taught. The advantages of this assessment are that they don’t require the time taking tasks of writing down a paper or checking it.
Everything gets done on the spot. It helps build the confidence of students and allows them to showcase their knowledge and intelligence in front of an audience. There is no chance of cheating to get the right answer. Disadvantages are that some students who suffer from stage fright are likely to score poorly when in fact, they could’ve scored well if the assessment was on paper. So in this way, the method becomes unreliable to judge every single student accurately (Iqbal, 2010).
All of the different assessment types vary in reliability and validity in judging the students’ knowledge level accurately. It can be said that both these factors also vary with the nature of the subjects getting taught. For example, multiple papers will not be the best assessment type for a subject like literature, which requires a lengthier display of the themes discussed. Validity is a measure for accuracy in the answers given, and reliability intends to show the consistent performance of the students. Assessment types such as multiple choices, fill-in-the-blanks, true and false have more “valid” results but are not “reliable” methods as they do not show consistent performance. On the other hand, Portfolios may not be as valid because their grading criteria are more extensive and subjective.
But they are more reliable because they show the consistent performance of the students. Overall, from the information shared in this essay, it can be concluded that portfolios are the best assessment type relative to the rest(Iqbal, 2010).
Iqbal, I.Z., Naqvi, S., Abeysundara, L. and Narula, A.A., 2010. The value of oral assessments: a review. The Bulletin of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, 92(7), pp.1-6.
Weimer, M., 2015. Advantages and disadvantages of different types of test questions. Retrieved from FACULTY FOCUS: https://www. facultyfocus. com/articles/educationalassessment/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-different-types-of-testquestions.
Stecher, B.M., Rahn, M.L., Ruby, A., Alt, M.N., Robyn, A. and Ward, B., 1997. Using alternative assessments in vocational education. RAND-PUBLICATIONS-MR-ALL SERIES-.
Barbara D. Wright. 2015. Advantages and Disadvantages of Assessment Techniques. Retrieved from: https://www.nvcc.edu/assessment/_docs/step3/advantagemethods.pdf.
Pellegrino, J.W., Chudowsky, N. and Glaser, R., 2001. Knowing what students know: The science and design of educational assessment. National Academy Press, 2102 Constitutions Avenue, NW, Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055.