The Importance of Assessment in Education

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  • 0:00 The Importance Of Assessment
  • 0:52 The Effects Of Assessment
  • 2:47 Frequency And Feedback
  • 3:37 Forms Of Assessment
  • 4:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Theresa Spanella

Theresa has taught college Writing for 15 years and is two classes from completing a doctorate in Education

Expert Contributor
Grace Pisano

Grace has a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in teaching. She previously taught high school in several states around the country.

Assessment is a critical piece of the learning process. This lesson gives an overview of assessment, why it benefits both teachers and students, and the three most common forms of assessment.

The Importance of Assessment

I'm sure you know the feeling of anticipation when you are about to take a quiz or test. Did you take detailed class notes and study enough? And you surely have been assigned with various essays. Did you give yourself enough time to research, write, and revise your essay in order to meet the requirements?

Exams and essays along with speeches and projects are forms of assessment. Assessment is a critical step in the learning process. It determines whether or not the course's learning objectives have been met. A learning objective is what students should know or be able to do by the time a lesson is completed. Assessment affects many facets of education, including student grades, placement, and advancement as well as curriculum, instructional needs, and school funding.

The Effects of Assessment

Let's look at a couple of the main effects of assessment:

Student Learning

Assessment is a key component of learning because it helps students learn. When students are able to see how they are doing in a class, they are able to determine whether or not they understand course material. Assessment can also help motivate students. If students know they are doing poorly, they may begin to work harder.

Imagine this situation:

Johnny is a chemistry student. He just took his first exam in his class. He earned a 56%; he needs a 79% to pass the class. The low exam score lets Johnny know that he missed something important he should have learned. Perhaps, he did not understand the material, or maybe he did not study long enough. Whatever the case, the assessment results let Johnny know that he did not successfully learn the material and that he must try something new in order to earn a better score.


Just as assessment helps students, assessment helps teachers. Frequent assessment allows teachers to see if their teaching has been effective. Assessment also allows teachers to ensure students learn what they need to know in order to meet the course's learning objectives.

Imagine this situation:

Mrs. Brown is a 12th grade biology teacher. After finishing the unit on cell division, she gives a 50-point multiple-choice test. Upon grading the exam, Mrs. Brown realized the average class grade was a 68%, far below the cutoff line for passing. Mrs. Brown can easily see that her students didn't fully learn cell division. This tells her that she needs to re-visit the unit on cell division and determine why students failed the exam. Perhaps she may need to try a different teaching strategy, or perhaps she did not spend enough time on difficult material.

Frequency and Feedback

Assessment is designed so that students understand their progress towards course goals and modify their behavior in order to meet those goals. In order to do that, assessment should be ongoing. In other words, classes that use one or two exams a term are not using assessment as effectively as it could be used. In order for students to gain a true representation of their understanding, frequent assessment is critical, and it should be accompanied with feedback.

Assessment is really only as good as the feedback that accompanies it. Feedback is the teacher's response to student work. In order to make assessment as effective as possible, teachers should provide their feedback as well as a letter grade. It is important that students understand why a particular question was incorrect or why their essay did not meet requirements.

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Additional Activities

Creating a Formative Assessment

The best way to prepare pre-service teachers for their future career is with hands-on learning that they can apply to their lives. After completing this lesson on assessment, there is no better way to have students practice their new skills than by creating their own assessment.

Begin by having students talk about the different types of assessment. A key point from this lesson is that evaluations need to take place during a lesson, before the summative assessment is given, to evaluate how students are learning and what needs to be retaught.

With this in mind, students will create some type of formative assessment that evaluates the content covered in this lesson. Encourage students to be creative. Remember, a good formative assessment is quick, provides feedback for the teacher and students and evaluates a small chunk of knowledge.

Examples of formative assessments include: exit cards, 3-2-1 tickets, quick write, sticky note discussion, short quiz, thumbs up/down, etc.

After students have finished their formative assessment, divide the class into small groups. Each student will take a turn being the teacher and giving their assessment to the students. This will provide real feedback on what it takes to create an effective formative assessment.

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