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Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 4, No. 5 - September/October 2012

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Exam V Ongoing Assessment Tasks

By Dr. Joan Brien

Ongoing Assessment Tasks

For an educational institution, ongoing assessment tasks can be used to determine how a student is progressing so that help can be provided in a timely fashion, if required. It also gives students the opportunity to gain consistent results throughout the year, rather than relying on a "one off" examination at the end of the year.

The Pros of Ongoing Assessment

  • The assessment process is a continuum
    Assessment tasks can take any form: it could be a test, an assignment or a project
  • If assessment tasks are based on what has been learned in a short period of time, the amount of information that has to be "learnt" is smaller than that learned over a whole year
  • The student can assess their progress throughout the year & make adjustments to their studies if required
  • More information can be tested over the whole year, than can be tested in a single examination
  • Once a topic has been assessed, there is no need to go back over the work for future assessments

The Cons of Ongoing Assessment

  • The workload can be onerous as there is no "break" from study
  • Each topic is assessed in greater depth, so requiring a more intense coverage of those topics, which may not occur in a yearly "one off" assessment task
  • For the educator, it requires more marking time
  • This does not necessarily require students to retain information in their long term memory
  • It does not put the student into a situation where they have to recall facts for periods up to three hours

One Off Examinations

A one off (yearly) examination puts the student under more pressure to perform than an ongoing assessment process. Some educators consider that making students perform in a one off exam is a greater indication of a student's ability than on going assessments.

The Pros of One Off Examinations

  • It allows students time to learn progressively without the constant demands of ongoing assessment tasks
  • It gives the student the whole year to gain a deeper understanding of the subject
  • There is usually a "study period" before one off examinations & this time, without face-to-face classes is often the time when students really start to learn their topics
  • Due to the time constraints of examinations, there may only be one question per topic so the depth of knowledge required overall can be less than in ongoing assessment tasks

The Cons of One Off Examinations

  • A whole year's work relies on a single examination
  • The results of a single examination can be influenced by factors other than the student's knowledge. E.g. illness & family commitments
  • A student may know a particular topic quite well but if the question does not give them the scope to show their depth of knowledge, their opportunity for high marks decreases
  • A one off examination does not give the student the opportunity to demonstrate how much depth of knowledge they have about each topic

Whether assessment is ongoing or one off, students need to realise that they have one opportunity to show the examiners what they know so it is really important to know how to demonstrate their knowledge.

More Information

Dr. Joan Brien
Certified Irlen Diagnostician
Irlen Diagnostic Clinic
Suite 3/136 Nelson St.
Wallsend NSW 2287
P: 02 4955 6904


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