Why assessment is important in education

Assessment is a common tool used is education. Why do teachers need to take assessment to improve their instruction? This article will tell you why assessment is important in education.

When you start creating instruction (lesson material) for your students, you will have to evaluate your instruction. The teacher set goals to achieve at the end of each chapter or/and at the end of instruction. Assessment determines whether or not the goals of education are being met. Continuous questions that come to your mind when taking assessment are: “Are we teaching what we are supposed to be teaching?” “Are we reaching the goals we set for the instruction?” “Is there a way to improve your instruction, and promote better learning?” These questions don’t have to be asked at a certain stage of developing your instruction. You have to ask these questions throughout the whole instruction and even after you have implemented it. Assessment affects decisions on different domains:  grades, advancement, instructional needs, placement and curriculum.

First, you need to identify which assessment type you need. There are three types: needs driven assessment, goal oriented assessment and performance assessment. 

Needs driven assessment

What does a needs driven assessment exactly mean? A needs driven assessment is used to identify deficiencies in the performance. Once these are identified, you can think of ways to solve those with an intervention.

Kinds of needs driven assessment

Normative need

Identified by comparing the target group with a national standard. There is a normative need when the performance of the target group is below the national standard.

Comparative need

Identified by comparing the target group with an equivalent peer group. There is a comparative need, if there is a gap between these two groups.

Felt need

When an individual has the desire or feeling that it's necessary to improve his or her own performance or the performance of the audience. There is a gap between the current situation and the desired situation.

Expressed need

A felt need that has been expressed.

Expected need or future need

A way to identify changes that will/can occur in the future.

Important incidental need

Rare incidents, which could have significant consequences. These are potential problems that could occur.

Goal analysis/assessment

Sometimes a needs driven assessment is not always feasible. An alternative approach is a goal analysis/assessment that starts with an identified problem and addresses a solution. A goal analysis can also use data from a needs driven assessment to determine which are the priorities.

Performance analysis/ assessment

Before starting an instructional design process, it is important to determine whether doing training will actually solve the problem. Training is effective if it focuses not only on the symptoms of the problem but also on the problem itself. A performance analysis is a way to identify performance issues. This process can be described as finding the source of the problem. If the cause of the problem is known, the best solution can be determined. Examples of causes of performance problems are lack of knowledge or skills, lack of motivation, environmental factors, management factors and interpersonal relationships.

Read more about assessment in the classroom.

Useful resources

Kent State University

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