Assessment of educational processes is one of the most important methods in monitoring of teaching and quality control strategies.
Quite a number of monitoring and assessment methods and approaches are used in the educational system. Monitoring of teaching and learning strategies is mainly the responsibility of the educational institution. The assessment may also be carried out by any researcher, group of researchers, international organization or by a governmental or international program interested in one or another issue. However, the fact is that the monitoring is just able to give unilateral or global assessment. It cannot draw a complete picture of the dynamics of daily teaching activities.
In the second half of the twentieth century, a system, called 360-degree feedback was founded, which has been widespread throughout all western countries. This system, also known as the all-round and multilateral system, means involvement of all participants into monitoring and assessment processes and detailed analyses of findings.
Assessment Method of the Educational Processes
According to the modern approaches to monitoring and assessment activities, assessment done by a student - a key person in educational processes, since popularization of multilateral appraisal tendencies, is extremely important. All the leading schools in the West today regularly use the approach of Student’s Assessment of Educational Processes. Similar to 360-degree feedback method, it also has a history lasting just several decades. E.g. at Stanford University in the United States, Student’s Assessment approach was first used in the academic year of 1996-1997. From that time on, other leading schools started to apply this approach and today, assessment of educational processes by students is considered to be an integral part of the Western educational systems.
Advantages of the Student’s Assessment of Educational Processes
Students’ Assessment of Educational Quality, in comparison with other methods, has many advantages. First of all, mentioned method is student-oriented and allows determining compliance of educational processes with needs of students. Besides, it is widely recognized that students’ participation in educational assessment processes increases their involvement into the academic life.
This method has plenty of other benefits. Assessment activities help students to develop such necessary skills as freedom of expression and reasoning, decision-making abilities; they become a lot more analytical and the level of their self-esteem increases. Furthermore, students’ involvement into assessment processes improves professional relationship. While teachers are given the opportunity to understand students better, find out more about their opinions, needs and interests.
Determination of the Subject of Assessment
Teachers or schools can use assessment as formally so informally. Subjects for assessment are considered the following:
- Assessment of teachers’ teaching style;
- Assessment of teaching methods;
- Assessment of conformity of educational goals and educational processes;
- Appraisal of learning materials, resources and environment.
Each of these categories can be divided into subcategories. E.g. within the framework of Student’s assessment activities, a student may be asked to evaluate how effectively a teacher:
- Explains new materials;
- Clarifies instructions;
- Reviews already covered materials;
- Pays attention to each student;
- Uses appropriate activities;
- Adequately and timely responses to the students’ questions;
- Manages to attract the attention of students;
- Uses visual materials;
- Links theory and practice;
- Logically and successively develops lessons, etc.
During the appraisal procedures students will evaluate teachers’ ability to involve each student into lesson activities, use time effectively, move around the classroom, control discipline, arrange classroom interestingly, etc.
Determination of the Assessment Forms
Student’s Assessment of Educational Processes can be as open so anonymous. Frequency of such activities may be determined by the type of educational institution and training programs. Following your priorities and teaching challenges, you may enable your students to evaluate the training program, educational processes or the environment daily. While determination of frequency of assessment processes there shall be taken into account that the perfect analyses of assessment results takes lots of time and resources, not to mention the fact of development and implementation of the findings.
The most common evaluating methods are the following
Oral quiz, which means to ask a few simple questions orally, at the end of the lesson:
- What did you like?
- What did you learn?
- What aspects of the lesson need improvement?
Oral interviews do not need much time and can be conducted even on a daily basis. This method of assessment allows teachers to determine whether there was compliance between a lesson and students’ requirements, whether the goal of the lesson has been achieved and whether there were weaknesses and gaps during the lesson.
Written Survey is a more comprehensive form of assessment. It might be simple, detailed, analytical or psychological.
Simple Written Survey is similar to Oral Quiz, but it also includes some additional questions like:
- What did you find hard to understand in the learning course?
- Where do you need extra help in?
Detailed Written Survey contains questions concerning students’ needs, learning styles, abilities, expectations, recommendations and useful tips. Examples of such questions are the following:
- What were the most useful and practical issues of the learning course?
- What would you like most to learn during the course?
- Have you had the opportunity to take active part in the learning processes?
- Was there compliance between requirements of the course and standard of works to be performed?
- Have you been receiving regular information about your progress?
- How helpful was this course in achieving of your academic goals?
Analytical Written Survey can by conducted independently or via detailed survey. It contains questions like:
- What do you consider the most important issues concerning the course and why?
- What was the most effective teaching method and why?
- Which activities were the most effective and why?
- Can you do something that you cannot do before the course?
- What were the disadvantages you noticed in the course and how do you think they can be overcome?
- What made you to rate the course as positive/negative?
- Independent Analytical Written Survey, due to question contents, is mainly used for senior pupils or students, analytical questions for little ones are integrated into Detailed Survey.
Psychological Survey does not concentrate on the content of the learning courses or teaching methods, it evaluates students’ reactions and their emotional attitude towards them. The questions raised by this type of survey, are the following:
- What did you like most in the course?
- How safe did you feel in the classroom?
- What did you like the least about the course?
None of the surveys, including simple ones, are conducted daily or weekly. Interpretation of the results takes some time. Usually, written surveys are carried out on a semester basis or annually. The surveys aim to determine the nature of changes have to be made into the learning course, the educational processes or the environment of the following semester or the academic year.
There are also some other widely known forms of assessment: Interviews, Focus Groups and SWOT analysis. Interviews are mainly used in such cases when conduction of other assessment activities revealed contradictory opinions, or several students identified some specific problems in their assessment forms. Focus Groups are especially effective for consideration of contradictory opinions. Participation in group discussions enables Students to analyze better their points of view, listen to others’ opinions and reach an agreement jointly on issues needed to be improved. This method helps students to develop debate and reasoning skills.
SWOT analysis is an effective method rather for analysis of the educational environment and educational processes than for assessment of the learning course. SWOT analysis aims to reveal Strength (S) and Weaknesses (W) and determine Opportunities (O) and Threats (T).
While dealing with any method of Student’s Assessment of Educational Processes there must be taken into account the importance of asking right questions. As if the questions are irrelevant, the received information may be completely insignificant and useless. For example, if we are interested how much the learning course satisfied goals of the curriculum, students shall not be asked: “Do you think, the learning course satisfied goals of the curriculum?”. This kind of closed question will not provide required information. It is necessary to ask open questions, e.g.: “Describe the knowledge obtained during the course” or, “list the subjects you expected to learn but they had not been included into the course”.
How to use Students’ Assessment Outcomes
In order to use Student’s Assessment results effectively, it is vital to decrypt the assessment outcomes correctly. The first step is to identify positive and negative assessment. At the same time, a teacher should understand that a negative assessment is a possibility for improvement, not a criticism.
Experienced researchers and experts recommend being realists and after working out recommendations to outline priorities and start working over two or three the most important issues that needed improvement. After modification of the learning course, processes or environment based on students’ assessment outcomes, we should tell the students how their opinions has been used and considered, so that they will not lose interest to actively participate and take assessment processes seriously.