Assessment & Evaluation

So…am I doing an assessment…or am I doing an evaluation? How does one know the difference when creating a lesson plan? Assessment is a means of gauging your participant’s learning. It can be an assessment that is done sporadically throughout your lesson or something that can be assessed at the end of your lesson. That is the great part of being an educator- we have the flexibility to decide where we want to input the assessment(s) based on what (as educators) expect our participants to know.

A way of assessing student learning is by using Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs). Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) are a set of specific activities that instructors can use to quickly gauge students’ comprehension. They are generally used to assess students’ understanding of material in the current course, but with minor modifications they can also be used to gauge students’ knowledge coming into a course or program.

CATs are meant to provide immediate feedback about the entire class’s level of understanding, not individual students’. The instructor can use this feedback to inform instruction, such as speeding up or slowing the pace of a lecture or explicitly addressing areas of confusion.

An evaluation, on the other hand, is similar to an assessment, but not quite so. Evaluations are more summative in nature and gauges what is being taught as well as the performance of the educator/facilitator. Evaluations also determine if the educator needs to make any necessary changes to the lesson and/or how they as the educator needs to facilitate and deliver the lesson.

Planned Parenthood is an example of an organization that depends on program evaluation in order to successfully implement their sexuality education programs. In addition, evaluation determines whether the programs being implemented are effective.

Below are some additional resources to help distinguish the difference between these two important, but often confused terms:

Differences between Testing, Assessment, and Evaluation

Assessment and Evaluation- What’s the Difference?

Assessment vs. Evaluation

Kirkpatrick’s Four-Level Evaluation Model

9 responses to “Assessment & Evaluation

  1. I am interested in evaluation and assessment as I am thinking seriously about the possibility of curriculum creation/ implementation and evaluation as a possibility for my dissertation. I was a little bit confused by the document posted. Initially, it suggests that assessment is “in classroom research”. This makes sense and is very clear. Then it states that evaluation is about the teacher’s final evaluation of the students. This seems to contradict your assertion of evaluation as a tool for organizations like Planned Parenthood to keep their funding. There is very little discussion in this document about evaluation but the overall discussion of assessment was clearly stated. Here, they use pre-test and post-test as part of assessment. I would consider this to be evaluative. I feel all mixed up now.

  2. One other difference that I’ve noticed, in terms of departments or groups, is that assessment tends to be about gathering data for longitudinal understanding and change over time. Assessment requires “closing the loop” in that the things which are assessed are then altered in some way to make student learning better, easier, more focused, more powerful.

    Evaluation, on the other hand, tends to be focused on a specific class, workshop or presentation and is not usually integrated into a larger task of overall improvement. Individual students or teachers might use evaluation to improve specific tasks (writing a paper, presenting the differences between transgender and crossdresser more clearly) but that is up to the individual, not required.

    I find evaluation to be more punitive–you failed this test or you are not asked to lecture again because people didn’t feel they got their money’s worth–while assessment is more corrective/progressive.

  3. When I think of assessment and evaluation, the focus of the testing comes to mind. The educator assesses the students (to make sure the information is sinking in), but the evaluation occurs around the teacher, lessons and curriculum.

    Assessment also brings to mind a much shorter process. An assessment is a test, and once the test is done, the results inform the evaluation. Evaluation is about constant change and adjustment.

    Also, thanks, Shayla for the links for quick, immediate assessment. This is definitely not one of my strong suits, and I think it would go a long way for helping me be a more flexible, responsive educator.

  4. I tend to lean more towards Annalisa’s explanation of assessment as a long term, longitudinal process. I think of Widener University as an institution as a prime example. Assessment was a huge part of what I did when I worked there, assessing student learning, assessing program effectiveness, etc was just something my office did and for a long time, I said I “hated” assessment. I really think I do have a love/hate relationship with it as I find it to be a very tedious process. However, in an age where trust in the educational system is questioned, assessment can be your best friend. Showing data as to why your programs work or the very fact that students are learning something can be extremely beneficial. I could see that translating to sexuality education very easily. Often times, people who are not in our particular academic environment question the validity of what we do. Assessment is a great tool to show what we know in the field already.

  5. I’ve always looked at assessment as a kind of investigative kind of work. The word brings to mind my experience working with the HIV & AIDS Secretariat in my home country. Before we designed and delivered a programme or project, we would determine what already existed, what the needs were, what possible challenges may arise, who were the keys players or influential leaders etc. And this is what we called an assessment.

    Based on this assessment, the programme or project was designed. The goals and objectives for each programme and project were of course based on the information from the assessment reports. The programmes were then implemented and at the end of it, an evaluation was done to determine how successful we were in achieving the stated objectives and goals. Depending on how long the programme or project was, there may have been points at which an evaluation is done to determine whether the programme is on track and proceeding as intended.

  6. One thing that was very confusing about this topic was determining what types of activities or assignments were either evaluation or assessment. The provided link helped to offer some needed clarification on some of the specifics of those differences by focusing on assessment techniques. However, as I further understand this concept it seems to become an issue of framing. Whatever activity or assignment is provided to gauge current student learning/ understanding of a concept/skill or to gauge the efficacy of the teaching material is kind of irrelevant in a way. What seems to matter most is; does the activity measure what you’re looking to measure and how will you use the data collected, determines whether you are doing an assessment or evaluation.

  7. Assessment and evaluation as they relate to education, specifically health education, is such an important topic. Judging from the comments this post generated, it is also a topic that generates a lot of confusion. I think it is important to distinguish assessment and evaluation in education as opposed to other disciplines. Coming from a psychological perspective, assessment and evaluation are somewhat synonymous, and definitely represent a different pay scale because they require additional certification. The distinctions in education are subtle, yet very significant – assessment implies there will be additional instruction based on the results; evaluation occurs when there will be no additional instruction. What I found highly useful about this post was the concept of assessing an entire classroom as opposed to individuals. While all assessments do not account for multiple intelligences and different learning styles, time is not always in abundance for attending to individual assessments. A classroom assessment tool is ideal when implementing a community intervention or brief workshop and would yield a group temperature indicating how the instructor should process. Thank you for this!

  8. One of the activities that we participated in for 626 was deciphering whether certain ways to measure learning fell under the category of summative/formative in the assessment/evaluation activity. Summative Assessment from my understanding is when a facilitator is able to assess a student’s learning at the end of an instructional lesson while formative assessment is completed at the beginning of a unit and can be ongoing. The beginning of your post when you describe doing an assessment throughout your lesson can be beneficial as you are then aware of everyone’s learning capabilities in intervals and can go back if needed. An example of a formative assessment tool that you can use within a classroom is the Think, Pair and Share model as it can be done before, during and after a lesson.
    My current position requires that we evaluate learning objectives through pre/post testing. I often find this challenging due to the time constraints, time of day material is presented and other various external factors. Initially, I hand out a pre/test and spend the next 45 minutes or so teaching to the test and finalizing the class with a post test which usually we take together or the students yell out the answers (talk about flawed)! Is this pre/post testing an accurate reflection of the outcomes that we are measuring? I often feel that we need to change it and approach it from a longitudinal study in which we can accurately measure the learned information.
    The Classroom Assessment Techniques (CAT) link that you provided discusses learning as “an entire class level of understanding rather than the individual”. The challenge may lie as the students you are teaching in a classroom range in ability level and are often placed in classes based upon their age rather than their developmental ability.

  9. This was a great post. I, like Hillary, have a love/hate relationship with assessments and evaluation. I always felt that as an educator, when one is forced to do an assessment or evaluation, little good can come of it. However, when the assessment is appropriate, it can be very fruitful. I like what Jaymie had to say about the importance in sexuality education–this is so true! I appreciate the resources and know that i need more education on how to properly use assessments and evaluations. It seems that my disgruntled feelings from evaluations and assessments come from haven filled out forms that do not do what they are originally intended to do.

    The icc website really helped me categorize the different types of assessments and allowed me to begin to understand when what kind of assessment is appropriate. I believe I will be using the “Muddiest point” or “Minute paper” quite often in my educational career!

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