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Assessments are tests of knowledge, skills or competence whose purpose is to measure the outcomes from instructions. Therefore, appropriate assessment procedures and principles are very critical to the success of any instructional design. Appropriate assessment effectively measures whether or not the learning process meets its designed objective.
Appropriate use of Assessments in Instructional Design
An appropriate assessment must be able to determine what student’s should know and be able to do at the end of the instructional process. Therefore, instructors must envision curriculum, instruction and assessment holistically and as an integrated whole (Lew et al, 2002). Appropriate assessment procedures should therefore be able to evaluate whether or not the objectives of the learning process were met.
Appropriate assessment procedures should capture student learning. Therefore, the instructional design should promote an assessment procedure that enhances a wide variety of assessment tools capable of capturing broad range of student skills, processes and performances (Lew et al, 2002). These could include projects, investigations and assessments in math and science that are open-ended. The assessment process can also be appropriate if it is incorporated into instruction. A standard instructional design should thus be able to integrate curriculum, instruction and assessment.
The use of an appropriate assessment should enhance effective reporting and grading of students. The results of all assessments should be communicated to the parents, students and other audiences. Therefore, variety of assessment sources can be used for grading to enhance realization of the learning/ instructional design.
Inappropriate use of Assessments in Instructional Design
Inappropriate assessment procedures often fail to measure what they intended to measure. Instead of being objective, such procedures are often very subjective (Lew et al, 2002). Besides, the instructional design that promotes inappropriate assessment methods often involves use of assessments and their outcomes to a limited extent. The focus of such assessments is mere performance and instructional outcomes within the boundaries of the classroom.
Instructional design that promotes assessment principles without the participation or involvement of the student is also very inappropriate. Lew et al (2002) cited that students should be involved in self-assessment and monitoring of their own learning process. Other assessment procedures are considered inappropriate since they are limited in terms of determination of what students should know and effectively perform after the instructions.
Guideline for Evaluating use or Misuse of Assessment
Use or misuse of assessment can be evaluated on the bases of validity, reliability, stakes and feasibility. An appropriate use of assessment must be very valid. This implies that it measures what it is claimed to be measuring. Any assessment that does not offer validity in its application is thus considered misused or inappropriate. Shank (2009) cited that valid assessments should be able to match both the content covered and the standard level of skill. There must therefore be congruence between the objective type and assessment method.
The use or misuse of assessment can also be evaluated based on its reliability. This targets the consistency of the outcomes received from an assessment process. Misused assessments provide inconsistent scores on the same assessments. Assessment processes should therefore be consistent and objective. This will enhance reliability in a given assessment process. Relevant use of assessment process can also be evaluated based on stakes. This means that the consequences of an assessment process must be considered. For example if a student fails and assessment and there are no negative consequences, then the assessment is misused. However, if this failure has great implication on the student, then the assessment process deemed appropriately objective.
Feasibility will determine the use or misuse of an assessment process. For example, an assessment process that is not feasible cannot be used. Therefore, before an assessment takes place, there has to be trade-offs between ensuring validity, the time and the resources at hand. Effectively used assessment tools are thus very feasible if applied contextually to the instructional design process.
Recommendations for Test Preparation and Ethical issues involved
In test preparation, it is ethical that educators teach and review test-taking and familiarization skills. This should aim at creating an understanding of the characteristics of the test (Pope, Green, Johnson & Mitchell, 2009). However, this should be very independent of the subject matter being tested. Further, the educators should review the skills, strategies and concepts that were previously taught. Before the administration of the tests, educators should read and discuss the administration manual of the test to be issued with colleagues.
It is ethical to seek clarification, especially on issues and questions, from the test administration team responsible for ethical and appropriate practices. While preparing for the test, educators should shun any actions that would permit individual or group of students to get scores that do not reflect their actual level of knowledge and skill. Any such undertaking is considered unethical because it limits the realization of the goals of an objective assessment process. The educators should also restrain from providing or reviewing test question answers to students. This is considered unethical since it gives some student’s undue advantage over other students taking a similar test.
The educators should provide the students with appropriate amount of time that is needed to complete the assessment. This is because every test has a specific scheduled amount of time. It is thus unethical to add or reduce the amount of time that is meant for the particular test. This may affect the test outcomes of the students being assessed . Besides, it is very unethical for the educators to possess unauthorized copies of state tests during preparation for a test. Such may be used to the disadvantage of other students scheduled to take the same test and whose instructors did not have such prior access to tests. This should thus be avoided.