Sunday, December 7, 2014

Properties of Assessment Methods

    Assessment methods should possess qualities in order to be efficient in reflecting students’ performance. It is very important for assessment methods to have these qualities since these are means for the teacher to obtain data and information about each student’s extent of learning. If these are not present, then the evaluation and assessment would be questionable. It will also not give clear answers as to whether or not instructional objectives and goals were met
Generally, assessment methods should possess the following:
a. Validity
b. Reliability
c. Fairness
d. Practicality and Efficiency

Validity is perhaps the most important thing to be taken into account in preparing or selecting an instrument to be used in assessment. Of course, as teachers, we would first and foremost want that the data or information we get in using an instrument should serve its purpose.
    For example, a teacher wants to know if his approach in presenting a math lesson effective in improving the mathematics ability of his students. Of course, the teacher would give a test, perhaps making the students solve a series of problems, in order to assess the extent of mathematical ability of his students.   For his test to be valid and to truly reflect the mathematical ability of his students, the test should provide enough samples of the types of word problems covered in his instructional objectives. If the teacher will only give easy problems or only very difficult ones, or only problems involving just one part of the lesson, the test will not provide enough data and information that can lead to valid conclusions.  
      Specifically, if the unit is all about “Addition of Fractions” and with a general objective that students should be able to add all kinds of fractions, will a test with only questions or problems involving adding similar fraction considered valid? Of course, No. This is an example of content validity. For the test to have content validity, a teacher should consider that students have enough experience with the task posed by the items. The teacher should also cover necessary material and how this material given a degree of emphasis for the students to answer the items or questions correctly.
      The other aspect of content validation includes format of the instrument. This involves the clarity of printing, size of type, adequacy of work space (if needed), appropriateness of language, clarity of directions, and so on. Regardless of the sufficiency of the questions in a test, if they are given in an inappropriate manner, a teacher still cannot obtain valid results. For example, if a test in English for grade 6 uses words that are for college level, then the test would still not give valid results. Thus, it is also important that the characteristics of the intended sample be kept in mind.
    Aside from content validity, there are also criterion validity and construct validity. Criterion validity refers to the degree to which information provided by a test agrees with information obtained on other, independent test. There is usually a criterion, or a standard for judging, based on another instrument against which scores on an instrument can be checked. Construct validity, on the other hand refers to the degree to which the totality of evidence obtained is consistent with theoretical expectations.

This means that there should be consistency on the scores retrieved from the students using the same instrument or test. This refers to how dependable or stable the instrument is for each individual from one administration of an instrument to another and from one set of items to another.
For example, a teacher gives a test intended to measure comprehension skills. If the test is reliable, we would expect that students who receive a high score the first time they take the test to receive a high score the next time they take the test. The scores would not necessarily be identical, but they should be close.
However, the scores retrieved from a test can be reliable but not always valid. Furthermore, a test that gives unreliable scores cannot provide valid inferences. If scores are entirely inconsistent for a person, they provide no valuable information. There is no way of knowing which score to use to infer an individual’s ability, attitude, or other characteristic.
Generally, the relationship between reliability and validity is as follows:
a. Reliability and validity always depend on the context in which an instrument is used. Depending on the context, an instrument may or may not yield reliable or consistent scores.
b. If the data are unreliable, they cannot lead to valid and legitimate inferences
c. As reliability improves, validity may improve, or it may not.
d. An instrument may have good reliability but low validity,
e. What is desired, of course, is that test should both have high reliability and high validity.

          Fairness in the context of assessment could be described in various ways. For assessment to be fair, teachers should inform students about the goals and objectives of the assessment and what methods of assessment will be used. They also should tell the students how their progress will be evaluated in order for them to organize and manage their resources like time and effort. This is the reason why most of the teachers, at the beginning of the school year, discuss the grading system and how will they assess and evaluate the students in their subject.
          Fairness also involves the idea that assessment is done not to discriminate learners. The purpose is to measure the extent of learning and not to judge the learner.
          Assessment should as well free from biases and prejudices held by the assessor or the teacher. For example, a naughty child shouldn’t be given low grades in Math just for the main reason of his behavior and not his mathematical ability (author: guilty…hehehe). Teachers should also avoid stereotyping like girls are better in language while boys excel more in Mathematics. Also, favoritism should be avoided to avoid halo effect or the tendency for the teacher to give favor and more consideration to the students whom they prefer as compared to other students.

Practicality and Efficiency
          Assessment is practical and efficient if first, the teacher has the competence to administer it. It also should be implementable and does not require too much time or resources. It shouldn’t be too complicated which may cause difficulty in scoring and misinterpretation of the results. This may also cause the assessment to be inefficient since it would require a lot of time for feedback which is actually very important in drawing out significant conclusions.
          For example, a teacher would give a test administered only using only tablets. This may sound practical to affluent schools but if this would be imposed to a school where students belong in low income families, then this method of assessment is considered impractical and inefficient. Again, it is important that the characteristics of the intended sample be kept in mind.

P.S. Wew. I'm not that good with assessment, research, statistics, a lot of brain juices were used for this post….hehe…I did a lot of contextualizing to make this as comprehensible and as simple as possible. I should mention my references to give credit to the authors and to just let you know that I didn’t just surmise what I have written here…hehehe

De Guzman-Santos, Rosita (2007). Advanced methods in educational assessment and evaluation. Assessment of learning 2. Lorimar Publishing:Quezon City
Fraenkel, Jack R., Wallen, Norman E., Hyun, Helen H. (2012). How to design and evaluate research in education. Eighth edition. Mcgraw-Hill: New York

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