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Monitoring and assessing learning and giving feedback : Adult learning : Mathematics-specific Pedagogy

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Adult learning
Monitoring and assessing learning and giving feedback
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1. How confident are you that you are familiar with:

a. the purposes of assessment?


Assessment is an accepted part of the teaching and learning process but teachers should be clear about its purposes in order that it can be used effectively to enhance the learning process. It should be used to enable teachers to build on the prior knowledge of learners and to match teaching to the needs of the learners.
Some reasons for assessing learners are:
  • to diagnose difficulties;
  • to celebrate achievement;
  • to motivate learners;
  • to select learners for groups or courses;
  • to maintain records for information on progress;
  • to assess teaching methods
There are two main purposes of assessment:
  • Summative assessment, also known as assessment of learning. This is usually used to summarise and record overall achievement at the end of a course or unit of work, for promotion and certification. Most ‘high stakes’  tests and external examinations are designed for this purpose. As well as being used to evaluate the effectiveness of a particular course or teaching method, summative assessment is also used to compare the performance of different institutions. Analysis and interpretation of results of assessments can help teachers to identify trends, set realistic targets and identify learners’ needs.
  • Formative assessment, also known as assessment for learning.This takes place all the time in the classroom and forms an integral part of the learning process. It is about all the different ways of seeking advice on how well learners are doing and using the information to improve their future learning. An example of formative assessment might be the following:
At the start of a session on fractions ask learners to write any fraction between 0 and 1 on a mini whiteboard. Ask them to stand up along a wall showing their boards according to the size of the fraction – put themselves in order. By doing this the teacher can assess the learners’ understanding of equivalent fractions, how fractions connect with decimals, how fractions connect with money simply by facilitating a discussion on how they worked out the order or how they know that  three quarters is more than three fifths.

If a learner does not understand why one fraction is less than another, while you are making connections with money, say,  to help them understand, you are gaining information to help assess what you need to do next with that particular learner.

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