Assessment types and their uses: summative assessments

Posted by Julie Delazyn

To use assessments effectively, it’s important to understand their context and uses within the learning process.

Over the past few weeks I have written about diagnostic assessments, formative assessments and needs assessments. My last post in this series is about summative assessments.

Typical uses:

  • Measuring or certifying knowledge, skills and aptitudes (KSAs)
  • Providing a quantitative grade and making a judgment about a person’s knowledge, skills and achievement
  • Determining whether the examinee meets the predetermined standard for specialized expertise
  • Determining a participant’s level of performance at a particular time

Types:

  • Licensing exams
  • Certification tests
  • Pre-employment tests
  • Academic entrance exams
  • Post-course tests
  • Exams during study

Stakes:
Medium, High


Example:

Summative assessments are easy to explain: they sum up the knowledge or the skills of the person taking the test. This type of assessment provides a quantitative grade and makes a judgment about a person’s knowledge, skills and achievement. A typical example would be a certification that a technician must pass in order to install and/or do repairs on a particular piece of machinery. In passing the certification exam, a candidate proves his or her understanding of the machinery.

For more details about assessments and their uses check out the white paper, Assessments Through the Learning Process. You can download it free here, after login. Another good source for testing and assessment terms is our glossary.

Assessment types and their uses: Needs Assessments

Posted by Julie Delazyn

Assessments have many different purposes, and to use them effectively it’s important to understand their context and uses within the learning process.

Last week I wrote about formative assessments, and today I’ll explore needs assessments.

Typical uses:

  • Determining the knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes of a group to assist with gap analysis and courseware development
  • Determining the difference between what a learner knows and what they are required to know
  • Measuring against requirements to determine a gap that needs to be filled
  • Helping training managers, instructional designers, and instructors work out what courses to develop or administer to satisfy their constituents’ needs
  • Determining if participants were routed to the right kind of learning experiences

Types:

  • Job task analysis (JTA) survey
  • Needs analysis survey
  • Skills gap survey

Stakes: low


Example:
A food service company can run a needs analysis survey to identify differences between the knowledge of subject matter experts and people on the job. Evaluating the different groups’ scores, as shown in the gap analysis chart below, reveals the overall differences between the experts’ and workers’ knowledge. But more significantly, it diagnoses a strong need for workers to improve their understanding of food safety. Information like this can inform the organization’s decision about further staff development plans and learning programs.

For more details about assessments and their uses check out the white paper, Assessments Through the Learning Process. You can download it free here, after login. Another good source for testing and
assessment terms is our glossary.

In the coming weeks I’ll take a look at two other assessment types:

  • Reaction
  • Summative

Assessment types and their uses: Diagnostic

Posted by Julie Delazyn

Assessments have many different purposes, and to use them effectively it’s important to understand their context and uses within the learning process. I’ll explore each of these five key assessment types over the next few weeks:

  • Diagnostic
  • Formative
  • Needs
  • Reaction
  • Summative

Let’s start with diagnostic assessments.

Typical uses:

  • Identifying the needs and prior knowledge of participants for the purpose of directing them to the most appropriate learning experience
  • Determining knowledge and identifying skills gaps and needs
  • Placing learners in appropriate courses and tailor instruction to their needs
  • Providing instructors and mentors information on a student’s abilities
  • Giving feedback to participants and providing recommendations for products, services and/or learning activities
  • Setting benchmarks for comparison with post-course tests
  • Analyzing personality traits in order to predict behaviors
  • Creating intrigue about the content of a learning activity, which can in turn actually enhance the learning experience

Types:

  • Pre-tests
  • Placement tests
  • Self-diagnostic tools
  • Personality assessments

Stakes: low/medium

Example: A diagnostic assessment might report that a learner has mastered every competency in using Microsoft Word but can only perform 50 percent of those required to use Excel. The results of the assessment would prescribe a course on Excel. In addition, a diagnostic assessment can help place students within suitable learning experiences by asking questions such as, “Do you prefer instructor-led training or online training?”

For a fuller analysis of assessments and their uses check out the white paper, Assessments Through the Learning Process. You can download it free here, after login. Another good source for testing and assessment terms is our glossary.

Tune in next week for a post on formative assessments.

4 Tips to Help Ensure the Security of Intellectual Property

julie-smallPosted by Julie Chazyn

Protecting the intellectual property contained in a test or exam is essential, not only because of the time, effort and cost of creating assessments but also because IP theft undermines the accurate measurement of knowledge and skills.

Protecting intellectual property protects the credibility of tests. Here are four tips for helping to ensure the security of intellectual property:

Create and administer multiple test forms

Rather than having only one form of the assessment being administered, delivering multiple forms of the same exam can help limit item exposure. This method also allows for the possibility of interspersing large-scale integrated beta test questions within the forms to collect psychometric information on newly developed questions.

Restrict and control administration of beta test items

Beta testing questions is an important part of high-stakes assessment, ensuring the psychometric quality of questions before they appear on actual assessments. However, it is vital that a well conceptualized beta test model is in effect to limit the exposure of newly developed questions to participants.

Update exam forms periodically

Letting exam forms become stale can over-expose questions to participants, increasing the likelihood of IP theft. An organization could consider retiring old exam forms and turning them into exam prep materials that can be sold to participants. In this way, participants could periodically expect new practice questions.

Produce exam prep materials

Organizations should consider making exam prep materials available to participants before an assessment. This will help reduce the demand for participants to try to obtain exam questions via illegal means as they will have access to the type of questions that will be asked on the actual assessment.

For more details on this subject, plust information about various means for deploying a wide range of assessment types with assurance, download our White Paper: Delivering Assessments Safely and Securely.