Chapter 5 Assessment
5.4 Internal Assessment
This section presents the guiding principles that can be used as the basis for designing internal assessment and some common assessment practices for ICT for use in schools. Some of these principles are common to both internal and public assessment.
5.4.1 Guiding Principles
Internal assessment practices should be aligned with curriculum planning, teaching progression, student abilities and local school contexts. The information collected will help to motivate, promote and monitor student learning, and will also help teachers to find ways of promoting more effective learning and teaching.
(a) Alignment with the learning objectives
A range of assessment practices should be used to assess the achievement of different learning objectives for whole-person development. These include practical tasks, written tests, projects and oral questioning. The weighting given to different areas in assessment should be discussed and agreed among teachers. The assessment purposes and criteria should also be made known to students so that they have a full understanding of what is expected of them.
(b) Catering for the range of student ability
Assessment practices incorporating different levels of difficulty and diverse modes should be used to cater for students with different aptitudes and abilities. This helps to ensure that the more able students are challenged to develop their full potential and the less-able ones are encouraged to sustain their interest and succeed in learning.
(c) Tracking progress over time
As internal assessment should not be a one-off exercise, schools are encouraged to use practices that can track learning progress over time (e.g. portfolios). Assessment practices of this kind allow students to set their own incremental targets and manage their own pace of learning, which will have a positive impact on their commitment to learning.
(d) Timely and encouraging feedback
Teachers should provide timely and encouraging feedback through a variety of means, such as constructive verbal comments during classroom activities and written remarks on assignments. Such feedback helps students sustain their momentum in learning, and to identify their strengths and weaknesses.
(e) Making reference to the school’s context
As learning is more meaningful when the content or process is linked to a setting which is familiar to students, schools are encouraged to design assessment tasks that make reference to the school’s own context (e.g. its location, relationship with the community, and mission).
(f) Making reference to current progress in student learning
Internal assessment tasks should be designed with reference to students’ current progress, as this helps to overcome obstacles that may have a cumulative negative impact on learning.
Teachers should be mindful in particular of concepts and skills which form the basis for further development in learning.
(g) Feedback from peers and from the students themselves
In addition to giving feedback, teachers should also provide opportunities for peer assessment and self-assessment in student learning. The former enables students to learn among themselves, and the latter promotes reflective thinking which is vital for students’ lifelong learning.
(h) Appropriate use of assessment information to provide feedback
Internal assessment provides a rich source of data for providing evidence-based feedback on learning in a formative manner.
5.4.2 Internal Assessment Practices
A range of assessment practices, such as practical tasks, written tests, projects and oral questioning, suited to ICT should be used to promote the attainment of the various learning outcomes. However, teachers should note that these practices should be an integral part of learning and teaching, not “add-on” activities.
The acquisition of fundamental practical skills is essential for student understanding of some of the curriculum content. These tasks are standards-referenced (i.e. students’
performance is matched against pre-set standards), and teachers can assess students’
performance on them, and give feedback, as often as necessary.
As in other subjects, written tests are the most common mode of assessment in ICT.
To reflect the curriculum aims and learning targets, such tests should be geared towards assessing students’ understanding of concepts, creativity and higher-order thinking skills rather than just factual recall – and the inclusion of open-ended questions can help in evaluating such higher-order skills. ICT teachers can easily find ready-to-use online written tests/quizzes in various web-based learning platforms, which have a large databank of question items and can give instant feedback to students. More sophisticated systems even have test items graded in level to cater for learners’
differences in ability.
A project is any piece of extended work from which the constraints of lesson time have been largely removed. Asking students to carry out project work provides an opportunity for them to study a topic of interest in depth, and teachers may wish to draw the following steps in the process to students’ attention:
Clarifying the areas of interest
Interpretation of the question
Analysis of the case
Designing a solution
Implementation of the solution
Testing and evaluation
Presenting the product
Throughout the cycle, teachers should help students to acquire the essential practical ICT skills for completing the project. To enhance the validity and reliability of internal assessment, teachers may consider offering a range of project options to accommodate the full spectrum of students’ aptitudes and abilities.
Oral questioning need not be seen as a form of test to be used in the language subjects only. It can be helpful in other subjects also. It allows teachers to discuss matters in depth with able students, tease out the meaning of obscure statements, and find out the reasons for students’ conclusions. Teachers are encouraged to try using oral assessment, as it can be a valuable supplement to conventional assessment methods.
Regardless of the assessment activities adopted, at the heart of effective formative assessment is feedback since this provides constructive advice to students on how they can improve their learning.