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A Young Teacher's Guide to Writing Assessment Tasks

April 25, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 153

The process of learning to write and administer assessment tasks will always be a work in progress. There will always be ways to improve your assessment techniques. You can do this first by reviewing each item after you have completed marking your students' efforts. If you don't do the review and use the item/s again, you will perpetuate the mistake of using a poor assessment task.

Unfortunately, some teachers have believed in the past that their assessment task was perfect and that the students had not done the work to succeed. In fact, the opposite was often true. The assessment task had not shown what the students had known but what they did not know. This situation had often created a real fear of traditional examinations in the minds of students. The profession, in some cases, put it down to poor exam technique when the students, in reality, were given a poor assessment task. Therefore, it is imperative that we write assessment tasks that test what we teach and reflect how we teach.

For the young teacher starting out, remember your own experiences of assessment as a student to help guide you along the way. Don't just use items you have collected along the way or are given to use when you start your career. By all means, use what you are given as a guide. Alter it to fit into your teaching approaches. Have a teacher mentor on your school staff review it with you before you use it.

What follows are suggestions of a general nature which will help you in an organizational sense to get your assessment development underway. There are no suggestions of a subject discipline nature. You will get these during your training, your teaching practice and from senior staff when you are appointed to your school.

When You Are In Training:

  • Collect examples of as many different assessment tasks at all year levels you might teach.
  • Make sure you have an answer sheet and marking scheme/criteria to go with each item.
  • Write your own assessment tasks to test out the success of your practice teaching program.
  • Review each assessment task you use and rewrite it as necessary. Make notes on how to administer it as well as how successful it was.
  • Organise an assessment folder in year levels and subject disciplines.

When You Begin Teaching:

  • Continue to gather assessment tasks as you go for your assessment folder.
  • Most schools and/or teachers will have past copies of all their assessment tasks on file. Sometimes, these will be on the staff or subject area school intranet. Consult and use these as initial guides to gain an idea of the standard of questions you might ask.
  • Don't just copy items or tasks or exams in full. Do this only if it fits what you want and reflects your teaching approach for that topic.

  • You can use old test items as practice tests for your students. These practice tests will provide ideas for your own tests if you mark the practice tests yourself.
  • Decide, beforehand, what skills/procedures you want to test. These should be the basic skills/procedures on which the topic is built.
  • Initially, write the assessment items to test these skills and procedures.
  • Now, write items that bring these skills and procedures together to complete more complex tasks. These could be tasks of a problem solving/critical thinking/higher order thinking nature.
  • You must make sure that you have a range of questions from the simple to the difficult/complex. This gives every child the chance to succeed in some way.
  • Putting it a different way, your assessment items must test what basic skills and procedures they know and, later, in the assessment items, how they apply these together in more complex situations.
  • Do the assessment items yourself from the printed draft to test their validity and your suggested time requirements. Look for printing errors, errors of meaning and so on.
  • Amend the assessment items yourself. Then have another teacher proof read it and comment on it.
  • Do an answer sheet/model answer and determine the marking scheme or criteria. Put the marking scheme/criteria on the assessment tasks.
  • Write a clear set of instructions on page one of the printed paper. Include the time limit as well.
  • A rule of thumb that was suggested to me, early in my career, was to multiply the time you take to do an assessment task or examination by three to get an idea of the time students would take to complete that assessment task. Use this as the time you would give the students to complete the task.

In conclusion, remember to make your first goal in all your assessment tasks to find out what the students do actually know. This will lead you to know what they need to know and your second goal. This will be to revise that knowledge to give your students what they need to succeed in the next teaching period. Lastly, always review each assessment task with the goal of improving it so you can use it again in the future. is a web site based on over 120 years of teaching experience gained by the members of our group. They grew up with formal examinations, set and marked many traditional examinations and in recent years became involved in setting and marking non-traditional assessment items. The author of this article was part of a writing group that produced a paper on non-traditional assessment techniques. This was published and circulated among Mathematics teachers in his educational community when new Mathematics syllabuses demanded the use of assessment strategies other than just the traditional pen on paper formal examination. On the web site, you will find eBooks on assessment and the organisation of examinations and other assessment tasks.

Source: EzineArticles
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