10 reasons why assessments make the world a better place

Posted by John Kleeman

Here are ten reasons why I believe assessment makes a difference to the world. These are reasons that make me proud to work in the assessment industry and I hope they make you proud, too.

1. Assessments give equality of opportunity. Open public examinations let people from any parentage or origin show merit. Since their invention in Imperial China, exams have become a powerful way to give equality of opportunity to all.

Line containing Jefferson's use of the phrase "all men are created equal", in the US Declaration of Independence

2. Assessments make the world safer. Medical professionals, aircraft pilots, air traffic controllers, power station workers, and even anyone who drives a car, has to pass an exam. There are still tragedies, but we are all safer than we would be without assessments.

3. Assessments are the best way to measure knowledge, skills and attitudes. Maybe one day, brain scanners will read our minds, but until that day, assessments are the best way of quantifying what goes on inside our heads. As the scientist Lord Kelvin famously said: “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it”.

4. Assessments are the cornerstone of learning. Assessments give learners and instructors signposts and directions to learn better, and are needed for effective and efficient learning. See Questionmark’s white paper Assessments through the Learning Process (free with registration) for more on assessments and learning.

5. Assessments  reduce forgetting. Machines remember things forever, but people forget. As I have shared in this blog, taking a quiz or test gives recall practice, which helps retain information for the future, and reduces forgetting.

6. Assessments are one of the few ways to be sure people really understand. If you need to be certain people understand something – business rules, legal policies your organization has to comply with or other critical information – a well-crafted assessment can check not just that people think they get it but that they really do.

7. Assessments give objective data. By using results from surveys and other assessments, we can avoid subjective “gut” decisions, and gather objective information to make sound data-driven decisions, which use resources wisely.

8. Assessments define standards. By requiring a certification or entrance exam or other assessment criteria, we define standards for what  people need to learn and do, and if these standards are strong, they encourage good behaviour.

9. Passing an assessment makes people feel good about themselves. It’s a great feeling to pass an exam and to know that you have demonstrated your competence and capability. Fair, valid and reliable assessments contribute to happiness.

10. Online assessments give access for all. Last but not least (as this was the key reason I decided to devote my working life to assessments), the ability to take surveys, quizzes, tests and exams at a distance gives access to education, work and development opportunities to all. We empower those who are geographically remote or too poor to travel, as well as disabled people and those with family commitments.

Happy New Year to all in the world of assessment!

One Response to “10 reasons why assessments make the world a better place”

  1. Howard Eisenberg Howard says:

    John,
    I would add one qualifier to your top 10. “Well-designed assessments …” can do all of these things.

Leave a Reply