In a broad sense, assessment is, “ any method used to better understood the current knowledge that a student possesses” ( Collins & Brien, 2003; P.29). According to Crooks ( 2001), assessment is, “ any process that provides information about the thinking, achievement or progress of the students ( P.1). Because assessment is important in teaching and learning, instructors assess their students learning regularly. Some of the methods which instructors use to measure their students’ learning are written tests, book report, project work, home work exercises, oral presentations and questions–and – answers- activities. Therefore, instructors spend a great deal of their classtime engaged in one type of assessment or another ( Stiggins, 2001).
On the otherhand, students assessment entails using a well organised system namely tests to make judgement about achievement ( Gronlund & Linn, 1990).These tests brings anxiety, fear, disappointment to students which might negatively affect learning activities. Students might suffer from spending long hours of study and preparation for tests haunted by mixed feelings of hope and fear. Unfortunately,they might be disappointed at the fact that what they concentrate on differs from what the instructors emphasizes his/her questions ( Guskey, 2003; Shaaban, 2003).
The main purpose for conducting tests and assignment on the students’ subject area might be well known to the teacher but often times misunderstood and misinterpreted by the learner. A good understanding and better knowledge on why tests, assignment and homework exercises are conducted or given to the students at any particular point in time should be clearly stated and defined. Even teachers must be well equipped and conversant with the testing method and the reasons for carrying out the tests and assignment. A thorough knowledge on this aspect of study will facilitate and improve the quality of learning activities targeted towards better academic performance in the secondary schools.
Sequel to the above, the role of test and assignment in enhancing students’ performance in learning activities can not be over-emphasized. Meaning that, any learning system needs feedback ( Davis, 1998). Sufficient data need to meet each students’ learning needs and adjust the system. To reach this end, different kinds of assessement could be used to provide reliable information about students’ learning progress. Assessment has the most powerful influence on students’ learning ( George & Cowan, 1999; P.8). Therefore, instructors should be seeking information that will assist them in improving their students’ performance ( Shaaban, 2005; Tedick & Klee, 1998).
The implementation of No Child Left Behind ( NCLB) in 2002, and subsequent sanctions for lowering performing school systems has led to a myriad of educational interventions to improve students’ achievement. A common method advocated to improve student achievement is the use of formative assessement, both to improve pedagogical practices of teachers and to provide specific instructional support for lowering performing students. An almost unchallengeable belief in education is that research has conclusively demostrated that the use of test and assignment facilitates improvement in instructional practices, identifies “ gaps” in the curriculum and contributes to increased student performance.
Over the last decade there has been an increasing interest in strategies that encourage students to take a more active role in the management of their own learning ( see Nicol, 1997). Black and Wiliam (1998) make the arguement that “ a student who automatically follows the diagnostic prescription of a teacher without understading of its purpose will not learn (P. 54), while Sadler ( 1989) argues that the purpose of formative assessement should be to equip students gradually with the evaluative skills that their teachers possess. These writers are concerned that an over-emphasis on teacher assessment might increase students’ dependency on others rather than develop their ability to self – assess and self correct.
Research shows that direct involvement by students in assessing their own work and frequent opportunities to reflect on goals, strategies and outcomes are highly effective in enhancing learning and achievement ( Mc Donald and Boud, 2003). Moreover, if the skills of self assessment are developed progressively over the subject area of secondary school student, this would support a model of quality education where students are prepared for long-life learning ( Boud, 2000).
An important aspect of self assessment involves students both to identify standards/ criteria that apply to their work and make judgements about how their work relates to these standards ( Boud, 1986).
Based on the affore – stated inquiry, it is clear to deduce that a deepening rate of lowering academic performance amongst students of secondary schools in the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT), is inevitable if the instructors teaching the students feels or think it is less of importance or not necesssary to let a student know the motive behind setting a test or assignment and there is no need for such student to self assess themselves (self assessment) in learning activities. Students Enhanced Learning through Effective Feedback ( SENLEF), is a medium ( platform) to develop a resource for practitioners wishing to improve their feedback practice to students or get some new ideas on how to enhanced their current practice.
This research work tend to further knowledge in this area of role of test and assignment in enhancing students’ performance in selected secondary schools in the FCT. The study focuses more attention on the need to adequately explain and describe why teachers used test and assignment (assessment method) to improve students’ achievement in learning activities, thus the need for this research work.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
This chapter deals with the review of related literatures. It is divided into three sections namely: The empirical studies, the theoretical framework and the conceptual framework.
The research topic will be reviewed in the following areas:
( a) Seven Principles of good feedback practice,
(b) The Role of Assessment In Teaching,
(c) Talking To Your Child’s Teacher About Standardized Tests
(d) Homework: Amount, Effects, Help for Students and Parents.
(e) An Overview of The Evaluation Process
( f) Formative Evaluation as opposed to Formative Assessment
( g) Formative Evaluation and Academic Achievement Research
( h) Purpose and Benefits of Formative Assessment.
The existence of a plethora of empirical evidence documenting the improvement of educational outcomes through the use of formative assessment is coventional wisdom within education. In reality, a limited body of scientifically based empirical evidence exists to support that formative assessment directly contributes to positive educational outcomes. The use of formative assessments or other diagnostic efforts within classrooms, provides information that should help facilitate pedagogical practices and instructional outcomes. However, a review of the formative assessment literature revealed that there is no agreed upon lexicon with regard to formative assessment and suspect methodological approaches in the efforts to demostrate positive effects that could be attributed to formative assessments. However, as part of a series of studies being designed to evaluate the assessment and methodological practices used in “ data driven decision making”, a review of the literature revealed limited empirical evidence demostrating that the use of formative assessment (tests and assignment) in the classroom directly resulted in marked changes in educational outcomes. Basically, what began as a perfunctory review of literature on formative assessments for a manuscript on the statistical methods, evolved into a critical analysis of both the operationalization of the formative assessment and the methods employed to document the impact of the formative assessments.
It is difficult to hypothesize, and somewhat irresponsible to conclude that the use of formative assessments does not provide information to help improve instructional practices or student outcomes in the classroom. This research work provides a critical examination of the formative assessment literature in particular issues related to the formative assessment lexicon, Black and Wiliam’s (1998) seminal work and more recent research.
Finally, this research work provides the foundation for a series of manuscript on “ best practices” for evaluating students achievements through the use of tests and assignment (formative assessment).
Subscribe to access this work and thousands more