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Coming to Terms with Classroom Assessment

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Classroom assessment is the soliciting for response by a teacher from students about their learning experience. According to Frey and Schmitt (2007), different methods are applied in collecting this response information, depending on the subject matter and the exact information required. The principal aim of classroom assessment is to understand clearly how the students are learning for an effective teaching approach and strategies (p 404). Regardless of the method applied in getting the responses from the students, the contribution by all students is important as is the feedback to their response. There has not been a well structured approach to classroom assessment as well as description of terms used in this exercise (p 402). The article “coming to terms with classroom assessment”, brings to the surface the challenges faced in endeavoring to come up with a universal approach and use of terms in the field of classroom assessment.

Frey and Schmitt (2007) acknowledge that, researchers have not developed a standard definition for the various terminologies which are commonly used in the classroom assessment. Accordingly, this has caused a hindrance in developing a standardized approach in classroom assessment (p 405). Some of the terms used such as performance, authentic and formative assessments have no standard definition or usage in this field.

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Performance and authentic assessments have different definition and classification according to different experts in the field. According to Frey and Schmitt (2007), some classification suggests that authentic assessment is a category of performance assessment, though not all performance assessments are necessarily authentic. Others view performance assessment as authentic assessment by nature (p 406). These are some of the challenges experts face in trying to develop a common approach in the classroom assessment.

Formative assessment is another terminology which has no full consensus among experts. Though to a greater extent the contention of the term is based on the use of the verb formative (p 411). The interpretation that the response from assessment helps to form a behavioral change on both the teacher and the student, inform the use of “formative assessment”. Like performance and authentic assessments, the term formative assessment is order than its current use. Previous use of the term was designed to distinguish it with summative assessment. Formative assessment comes about in the course of the learning, while summative is an end of learning occurrence (p 411).

There also has been disagreement on who really benefits from a formative assessment: the students or teacher. Frey and Schmitt (2007) observe that most of the text book today portrays the aim of formative assessment as informative to the teacher and not the students. However, many researchers put more emphases of formative assessment to the improvement of students’ own learning.

The use of classroom assessment as a tool for gathering feedback from the students, for their improved learning skills is yet to be fully documented (p 412). However, classroom assessment is more beneficial than the terminal assessment since it captures the current position of the student. Frey and Schmitt offer contribution on ways to help standardize terminologies as well as approaches to the field. The intended purpose in carrying out the assessment should largely inform the use of terminologies to avoid confusion (p 416). Since different assessment have their unique purpose, categorizing these purposes can help to standardize the use of terms. Also, it will be easier to document the findings of each assessment categories for future references. Classroom assessment has widely been adopted by many instructors. More research in to this field is required to enable a standardized approach to this discipline.

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