While assessment means different things to different educators and students, it is widely accepted as an important part of a student’s learning experience. Good assessment provide a student with the kind of feedback that identifies what he/she does and does not understand, and rates their overall performance. There are many problems associated with assessment, so the debate on its effectiveness and purpose continues to rage. However, for many students, assessment provides a clear goal to work towards, motivates them to study well, and provides proof of their achievement, skill and knowledge.
In distance education, motivation can be a critical factor in student success. Without the regular support of a classroom, classmates and a special ‘school’ environment, some students find it difficult to maintain their interest and commitment. Because study is done at home, everyday life can distract the student, or make private, quiet study very difficulty, and many students who enter distance education have family and work responsibilities that also increase the pressure on them. Some students may also have a feeling of isolation.
With this in mind, one key goal of assessment in distance education should be to motivate the student to continue with his/her studies. Assessment should give the student positive feedback and recognition for work well done, a goal to work towards (of improving results or continuing to receive good results, and guidance on how to improve. In other words, good assessment should:
*Encourage appropriate ongoing study (this is of greatest importance!!!)
*Show students where they have gone wrong or provided insufficient detail so that they can learn from any mistakes.
*Provide additional relevant information when and if needed for the student to satisfactorily complete the course requirements and obtain a pass at course level.
*Ensure that the student is maintaining a standard necessary to achieve an examination pass later on (particularly where qualifications are involved, as in the case of certificate and diploma courses or accredited modules).
SOME APPROACHES TO ASSESSMENT
In vocational and adult education courses, students may be assessed on the basis of:
a. Submitted assignments (in writing or orally)
c. Any other communication that occurs between the school and the student as he/she progresses. These may involve special projects, such as PBL projects, workshops or other practical activities.
The main reason for offering a variety of assessment modes is to provide the student with more means for accurately communicating what she/he has learnt. Some people do not perform as well under pressure in an exam, as others do.
Another reason is that the tutor or school have more ways to accurately assess a student where there is some question about the real state of his/her knowledge or performance. For example, if a tutor is uncomfortable about the mark given on an exam, suspects that a different result should have been given, or questions whether the student is submitting his/her own work or taking text from the internet, the student’s overall record may be consulted.
Some schools offer the student an opportunity to re-take an assessment. In some cases, an assessment fee is charged for each assessment, where in others, one re-assessment is allowed without additional fees. In competency-based assessment, the student is able to be reassessed until deemed competent. This causes some real resentment among other students, who see it as unfair, and can lead to a significant decrease in motivation. It is also not very cost-effective, since each re-assessment costs time and wages.
HOW TO LEARN MORE
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