Courtesy of Mr Jim Kalathas

Evaluation and assessment

Can they go hand in hand?Diana Hicks looks at some differences between assessment and evaluation and suggests some practical classroom strategies.New approaches and ideas in the curriculum, teacher training, classroom activities and teaching styles bring with them new ways of thinking and behaving and new words to talk about the innovations. 'Evaluation' and 'assessment' are two examples of this new vocabulary. Neither term is new to teachers or students but what is new are the different strategies which can be used to make clearer distinctions between them.Evaluation and assessment are often thought of as having the same meaning because they can sometimes be carried out by one event. However, each serves different purposes because assessment and evaluation are each concerned with different aspects of teaching and learning. We assess our students to establish 'what' and 'how much' they have learnt but we evaluate our students to find out 'how' the learning process is developing. Both are of importance to the teacher and the learners.

Assessment without evaluation

The most straightforward example of assessment without evaluation is the end of year examinations. These are usually based on the syllabus or the textbook and the grade indicates the 'attainment' or 'achievement' level of each student, which can be measured against the other students in the same class or in other classes. The result is simply that students know whether they have passed or failed and teachers know who are the 'good', 'average' and 'weak' students.Assessment with evaluationHowever, in addition to end of year tests, during the course of a school year students may take other smaller 'quizzes' or tests. Generally, however, the scores from these smaller tests (such as 6/10 or 62%) will give the teacher the rank order for the students in the class but will probably not tell the students where and why they are going wrong nor will it give them strategies to help them improve. Neither will the scores inform the teacher about how and why the students behaved in a certain way. These smaller tests are ideal mechanisms to use to 'observe effects in context' - in other words, to build evaluation into assessment.