It does not seem to be an over-statement to say that within the whole school curriculum, this subject
area is one where the idea that ‘teachers and students are partners in learning’ is most readily
applicable. The constant up-dating of subject matter can best be done with the full co-operation of the
teacher and the students. In their joint endeavour to get a realistic picture of the present-day society,
and to get-involved in improving it, both the teacher and the students will be able to enrich their
experiences and contribute to the life of the community to which they belong.
Teachers usually undertake assessment because it is necessary to select students for admission into higher form, however, it is surely more beneficial to the teaching/learning process if the functions of evaluation are identified:
for the teacher
Performance on evaluation can provide a detailed analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of students, which in turn assists teachers to improve their performance. In the absence of students ’ feedback, it is practically impossible for teachers to make systematic efforts to improve teaching methods to realize aims.
for the student
In studying for the assessments, students usually study material with reasonable thoroughness, which helps assure that material will be remembered. Furthermore, distortions and faulty generalisations may be cleared up by correcting the wrong answers. Evaluation also provides feedback, which can function as reinforcement, which in turns is an essential part of learning. Finally, the evaluation feedback can serve as an objective standard for assessment of the academic progress of the student. This feedback can provide a standard for the student to compete against himself, but not only against the classmates.
Assessment activities commonly used can be divided broadly into two categories:
Formal tests and examinations are examples of terminal assessment. The characteristics of terminal assessment are:
firstly, planning and preparation by the teacher; secondly, recording of the testing results in a systematic way; and thirdly, conversion of the testing results into grades or some other forms of report regularly in the school year. And because these grades or other forms of report are of great concern to the students, it is imperative that extraordinary care must be paid to develop assessment procedures that are consistent with the described goals and objectives of the course.
Continuous assessment generally refers to the systematic collection of marks or grades over a period of time and their aggregation into a final grade. These marks or grades may be awarded for different types of classwork or homework, such as reports, group discussions, diaries and logs, case-studies, project works, exhibitions, scrapbooks, dramatisation, debates, games and any other simulation exercises. They are sometimes also awarded for efforts, contribution in class activities, overall interest and attitude towards the course. Continuous assessment is a cumulative process and it reflects students ’ change and development. It can be a sophisticated monitoring process giving feedback to the teacher as to the effectiveness of his teaching and to the students as to the efficiency of their learning.
Considering the merits of both types of assessment, teachers should use their discretion to strike a sensible balance of the two types, according to the particular needs in their schools.
The over-emphasis on memorization of factual information reflects only the low levels of students’ cognitive development. Evaluation should be concerned with assessing the higher level of the students ’ cognitive development in application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation of acquired information and concepts. The affective
domain of students in terms of formation of proper attitude, participation in community affairs and development of positive social relationship should be evaluated as well.
To assess the cognitive performance of students at the knowledge, comprehension and application level, the appropriate assessment procedure should require students to give predetermined correct responses. Tests of this kind usually include matching, fill-in-the-blanks, true-false questions and multiple-choice questions. To assess students at the higher levels of thinking, including analysis, synthesis and critical thinking, the appropriate assessment procedure would probably be questions requiring short answers or data response questions.
To assess the students in the attitude aspect, it should be noted that changes in attitude cannot be measured directly. It can only be inferred from the behaviour of the students. Whatever assessment procedures teachers adopt, they must remember that only behaviour can be measured and not the attitudes behind the behaviour.
However, teachers can use these assessments to reflect students ’ changes in attitude.
To ensure that the evaluation exercise is meaningful, teachers must take great care to design the evaluation according to the course objectives. All exercises should have a high degree of validity and reliability. Validity refers to the extent of the questions are representative of the knowledge, skills and values areas being assessed.
Reliability refers to the consistency with which the questions in the exercise measure the same thing.