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Assessment and Learning Essay

Assessment & Learning
Task 1
The following is an analysis that focuses on how Orpington College records the results of assessment and how these results are used by the college in quality assurance procedures.
Submitted summative assessments such as coursework and exam papers are marked by the issuing teacher and recorded on tracking sheets. Tracking sheets store information about the student e.g. name, course code, level, tutor etc. Tracking sheets are useful as they are used to record student progress within each unit or module. Marks or grades awarded at this point by the issuing teacher are provisional and can change depending on the judgment of a second marker.
Moderations occurs every six weeks, and this is a process where tutors from the same department e.g. IT department exchange and mark each other??™s work. The teacher who takes responsibility for marking the assignments of their colleague??™s students is referred to as the second marker. It is important and beneficial to have a second marker as it ensures that submitted assignments are fairly assessed and marks are awarded appropriately. During this period teachers are also expected to obtain and compile student grades for each individual module. Feedback is given to students by teachers on their performance, and targets established at the beginning of the academic year with the use of Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) are reviewed and new targets are set.
Quality Review cycles are conducted at the college and this is a nonstop process where the learning institutions efforts to improving the quality of teaching and learning are assessed. The main aim of a quality review cycle is to assist the College in improving on the quality of education, through inspections and self assessment.
Quality assurance procedures are carried out internally by the Quality assurance Department of the College and are performed every six weeks or each semester. Internal quality procedures involve the observation of lessons, interviews, self assessment, inspections of lesson plans, scheme of work, exam and coursework results. The aim of internal inspections is to ensure that the College maintains a high standard of teaching and to monitor the progress of the College in meeting the criteria and objectives set by external inspections performed by the Office for Standards in education (OFSTED). Depending on the outcome of these internal inspections changes may occur within the college such as hiring new staff, training current staff, and amending syllabus.
OFSTED perform external inspections of the college and these occur once every three years according to the (national audit office 2006). The inspections performed by OFSTED are similar to that carried out by the QA department of the college, and they typically last between four to five days. Reports are done on a daily basis and provide feedback to teachers along with a grade; this is useful as it gives teachers an idea of their strengths and weaknesses. At the end of the inspection a final report is produced, that highlights findings, and recommendations for areas to improve upon.
This final report is then published and uploaded onto OFSTEDs website where it can then be accessed by the general public. Poor reviews affect the ranking of the college, and colleges who receive low standards are more likely to have frequent inspections by OFSTED.

Task 2 b
i.
The assignment was designed to be a formative assignment that corresponds to unit 16 Database systems for BTEC first IT practitioners. The purpose of the assignment was to test and develop learners??™ problem solving skills and aspects of the minimum core skills; Literacy, Numeracy and IT. (get a source on importance of addressing min core)
The literacy skills of learners were addressed as they were required to read and abstract information from the scenario and complete tasks 1 ??“ 5. Task 1 of the assignment required learners using their own words to discuss the various advantages and disadvantages of using a computerized database system. Task 5 also addressed the literacy skills of learners as they had to produce a report justifying their choices on the design of the database system. Numeracy skills were required to complete assessment as learners had to calculate the total amount of a customer order in task 3. The minimum core skill IT was an integral part of the assessment as students had to use computers to create database system. Completion of the assignment would provide an understanding of the learners??™ competence levels of using the skills described above.
The reason for choosing this method of assessment was that it provided students with practical experience on creating databases using MS Access and highlighted the impact of IT on businesses. It was also recommended by Edexcel on their website, to provide a formative assessment similar to the one created to effectively assess students understanding of the unit.
ii.
Reliable
Reliability is defined as the consistency of measurement (Cox et al 2000). Completion of the assignment by learners would highlight learners??™ ability and competence level of creating a fully functional database system. Learners??™ grades would be higher if they had to re-submit the assignment as they would have gained more experience therefore resulting in a fluctuation of results.
On completion of the assignment feedback was given as it was designed to be a formative assessment task to test learners??™ progress and help future development. This type of assessment is used to monitor learner progress during a course or period of training. Its prime purpose is to provide feedback to students. (Armitage et al 2008). Formative assessments are much cheaper to conduct than summative assessment tasks because they are easier to mark and be interpreted therefore allowing more rapid decisions to be made on the needs of learners. (Cox et al 2000).
Valid
Validity is described as an assessment method that measures whether the aims and objectives of a learning experience have been achieved (Armitage et al). The formative assignment was designed to measure the learners??™ ability to use database software to solve a business problem. This assessment was appropriate for learners as it provided them with practical experience of creating databases and exposed them to the challenges faced within the IT industry. It is relative to unit 16 (Database systems) of the BTEC first syllabus and provided knowledge and experience necessary to complete the summative assessment for that unit.

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Fair
The purpose of the assignment was to determine the progress of learners and to provide adequate feedback that will motivate and assist their development. It was a formative assessment to gain an idea of the current abilities of learners and therefore did not contribute to their final grade. Also it was not constrained by time therefore making it less stressful as opposed to undertaking a summative assessment.

iii.
The assignment was appropriate for the learners to undertake as it was based on lessons and work that had been carried out previously during the academic year therefore students already had the necessary knowledge and skills to complete assignment. Careful consideration was taken when creating assignment to ensure that what was being assessed matched with what learners had previously learnt. It was vital to make the assignment a practical exercise that accurately measures the competence of learners as this approach was a requirement by the awarding body Edexcel. Using the competence approach of assessment gave learners an insight to the conditions and skills closely related to that of the IT industry. (Get a quote Reference: Anne Cox and Harriet Harper (2000), Planning Teaching and Assessing Learning, London, Greenwich University Press p73)
Adjustments were made on the diverse needs of learners to ensure that all learners had equal access and opportunity to complete the assignment. Learners with a disability were given extended time to complete the assignment and had the option of getting assistance from a learning support worker. According to Keeley browne 2007 all educational institutions have had a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments for learners who have a diagnosed learning difficulty or disability and where approrpraite make adjustments to the way they are assessed.
Assignment was done within lessons that took place within the IT labs therefore all learners had access to the resources necessary to complete assignment such as Computer, software, internet access etc.

Task 3
In education feedback is a very useful tool that is used to assist in the development of learners. The general aims of providing feedback are to encourage learners, correct errors improve performance and reward or penalise certain behaviours (Haines 2004). The manner feedback is communicated to learners can have a positive or negative effect on the students moral, confidence and ultimately their learning experience. Any criticisms of learners work must be constructive in an attempt to encourage, motivate, and highlight areas for concern whilst focus on positives to improve the learning experience. Giving feedback to learners on their work can be done either in a written or verbal format; however the approach used is dependent on the assessment method, and the outcome/results of the assessment.
For example if there is a common problem that majority of students have expressed then a verbal group feedback session could be adopted. In this approach to giving feedback, the teacher gives feedback to the whole class. Browne 2007 states that this type of feedback requires thoughtful planning and should be done prior to returning marked assessment in the form of a short introductory part of a teaching lesson.
A feedback mechanism that encourages constructive feedback is the feedback sandwich. Docheff (1990) cited in F Butler describes the feedback sandwich as an effective model that comprises of reinforcing informational and motivational phrases. This approach is very useful as it gives learners an indication that they are heading in the right direction, provides critical information on performance; highlighting both strengths and weaknesses and finally encourages learners.
Another approach of issuing feedback to learners is the use of feedback sheets with handwritten comments on learners assessed work. According to (Rece) this is an example of a type of written feedback. The use of comments in giving feedback is widely used within education and can be applied to essays, reports, dissertations etc. This is a very effective way of giving feedback as the comments are linked directly to the assessment criteria giving the students a clear understanding on the outcome of their work and any problems in a particular area of the assignment. An example of a comment could be ???You have carried out an extensive review however wider reading is required on the subject area???. The feedback is therefore personalised and tailored to each individual learner. This approach of giving feedback is beneficial for learners as it can be repeatedly reviewed and learners can use it as a point of reference as opposed to verbal feedback. The disadvantage to handwritten comments is that it can be an exhaustive process for teachers to personalise comments to each individual learner.
In the process of target setting learners should have an active role as it demonstrates a level of responsibility and accountability for their learning. Targets set should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART), and agreed on by both the teacher and student. Within learning institutions a typical example of target setting occurs at the beginning of the academic year in the form of Individual learning plans (ILPs). According to Browne 2007 it is a planned route that takes into consideration the needs and abilities of learners to achieve success. The use of ILPs is beneficial as it serves as a guide to what work needs to be completed, and a way of tracking and logging learners progress i.e. outcomes and action plans. Meeting targets can improve the confidence levels and morale of learners; however those who are unsuccessful should be given appropriate support in the form of feedback to acknowledge their errors and ways of improving.
Task 4
Continuing to develop ones teaching practice is an integral part of a teachers??™ profession. It is important to maintain and acquire new skills to ensure that learners receive a high standard or quality of education. There are a wide range of resources available to teachers that can assist in improving knowledge and skills on assessment issues. A teacher may wish to improve on giving constructive feedback or learn how to create valid, relevant, fair assessments.
A very useful approach is to update your skills and knowledge of assessment by researching using books or material available on the World Wide Web. There is a vast amount of books and online material dedicated to providing information on assessment topics e.g. Training to teach in the learning and skills sector by Liz Keeley Browne or tda.gov.uk website. Training to teach in the learning and skills sector provides detailed information on the various types of assessment, designing assessment tasks, using feedback to help learners improve and record keeping. This book is very helpful as it provides templates of assessment tasks, and tests your understanding by using short tasks/exercises.
The use of books and online material to enhance your teaching practice is beneficial as it is cost effective, can learn at own pace, provides theory that can be experimented within lessons; however a disadvantage is that it is not practical based and you may find difficulties transferring theory into practice.
Learning by observing an experienced teacher such as your mentor is another way of improving your teaching practice. This can be done though observing a teacher issuing coursework or giving feedback to learners, view samples of assessments he/she has issued and seeking advice through discussions. This approach to developing as a teacher is hugely significant as you are able to receive suggestions and advice from an experienced professional and it also improves communication amongst colleagues.
Further study or undertaking a course that solely focuses on assessment is a good way of developing. The University of Cambridge offers a course called the certificate of education in the principles and practice of assessment. This is a good way of improving as you obtain knowledge of assessment from specialists whilst receiving a recognised qualification; however it can be an expensive option as the course fee is ?760 per course or ?2210 for three courses. Source (https://cpdsearch.tda.gov.uk/ProvisionDetail.aspxe=fQCguFY5tkyDmYHsxSnw6PN1ukni+elx)
Another route available to improve professionally with regards to assessment is to become a marker/examiner for examinations boards such as OCR. A key advantage to this approach is that you do not have to be a qualified teacher to become a marker; however good communication skills and a level 4 qualification, such as a degree is a requirement. Moderation is done frequently throughout the year typically January, June and March (put in Source OCR website and is a good source of earning an extra income whilst providing practical experience of marking learners work.

References

Armitage. A; Renwick M. (2008) Assessment in FE : a practical guide for lecturers, The Essential FE Toolkit Series, London, Continuum: pp70-80

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