As part of the overall evaluation process, we need specifically to find out if the learners are actually learning (changing their behaviour) as a result of the training. This will show us whether the training has been effective, which ultimately is the most important issue. Assessment is a means of finding out what learning is taking place. As well as specific knowledge A complex construction of information and individual experience with an interrelatedsocial and environmental dimension. (N.B. many different interpretations of knowledgeexist, and this is one preferred in this Toolkit) and skills, we might also like to measure other changes in behaviour related to ‘personality’, social skills, interests, learning styles, etc.
There is a lot of debate about how to assess learning, and especially about how to evaluate performance. Our objectives give us guidance on what to assess, because they are written in terms of what the learners should be able to do. Based on these objectives, it is very useful to identify all the activities and skills which the learners will carry out, the conditions under which they will perform these activities, the possible results which might be obtained, and the standards by which their performance will be measured.
The measurement itself can be done in different ways:
Ask the learner to recall facts or principles (e.g. What is ‘x’?).
Ask the learner to apply a given or recalled fact or principle (e.g. How does x help you solve this problem?).
Ask the learner to select and apply facts and principles to solve a given problem (e.g. What do you know that will help you solve this problem?).
Ask the learner to formulate and solve his or her own problems by selecting, generating and applying facts and principles (e.g. What do I see as the problem here and how can I reach a satisfying solution?).
In (3) the learners are choosing the means to a given end. In (4) the learners make their own meanings within the structure of their own ideas. This fourth level can be said to be ‘meta-thinking’, and is a very high level of learning.
Once again, we need to stress the importance of participation, and this is especially important in evaluation and assessment. Learners should be actively involved in both the development of learning objectives, and as much as possible in their own assessment. In many education systems, assessment is used as a tool for ‘sorting’ students for selection purposes (progression to a higher level of education, higher rewards, etc.). Assessment where students are compared with each other is known as ‘norm-referencing’. It is much better if learners are clear about what they need to learn and are clear about what they have learned, by setting their own targets and monitoring their own progress. Of course, teachers and trainers should advise the learners, and guide them in order to help them learn; this is a key role of the teacher. Assessment of learners in relation to a particular target or level of performance is called ‘criterion-referencing’.