What are Teacher-designed Assessments?

These are materials made by teachers to ascertain students’ level of understanding on a particular topic. They can be oral or written tests and tasks or practical assignments. Teachers may use them throughout the school year as a basis for continuous assessment, at the end of an academic year, or even after a period of learning about a specific topic has ended for assessment of learning.

Before teachers design assessments to evaluate their students’ learning, they should define the learning goals and map them to the curriculum. They should also determine and find information to help them judge if the students are meeting the planned and stated learning goals. 

Determining the criteria they’ll use to evaluate the program’s success or efficiency and the methods or instruments they’ll need to find or develop are other steps they should complete. The next step is to prepare assessment questions based on what mode(s) they feel fit to use. For instance, teachers could try gathering direct evidence of their students’ learning via course-embedded quizzes and assignments, capstone projects (like creative essays, exhibits, etc.), or student presentations. 

They may also use indirect evidence of learning, such as through student opinions, self-assessments, perceptions, and attitudes, which will let them make inferences about how well the students have learned what they were expected to. They could also use a blend of these two methods to design their assessments.

Here are some guidelines teachers can use for developing tests:

  •         Recognize the test’s purpose at the outset and design it to meet this purpose
  •         Prepare questions that relate to the students’ interests as this will help make the test relevant and motivating for them
  •         Begin with some easy questions that all the students can answer, which will let them overcome their fear and feel confident about succeeding
  •         Have at least two types of problems in the tests because including just one type will make the students quickly pick up on the pattern, which will discourage them from reading the succeeding problems and thinking about solving them
  •         Vary the test questions to evaluate the students’ reasoning skills behind their answers and the approach they employ

Letting teachers design and administer their own tests is an effective way to counter the criticism about “overtesting” and give teachers better data to improve their teaching instructions. Commercially prepared or generic online tests often fail to give teachers useful, timely, or actionable data that can drive student improvement. On the contrary, assessments developed by classroom teachers can reflect what’s taught in class better and give them the flexibility to select the best format like essay, presentation, multiple-choice questions, or oral examination to evaluate students’ mastery. 

However, it’s crucial to ensure that teachers are prepared to develop and understand assessments before going ahead with teacher-designed tasks and tests. If the teachers are clueless about what they need to assess, how to design high-quality assessments, what tools and strategies they can use for the purpose, or how to use the data derived from such assessments, the entire process would be futile. In other words, teachers should be trained to become assessment-literate before they’re given the task of designing and implementing their own tests and tasks.  

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