Thoughts on 3A

a) How do you decide when to use formal or informal assessments? How is assessment done in informal ways?

Formal assessments may be used when your objective is to accurately identify whether an individual’s performance can outdo that of his peers or to identify comparable strengths and weaknesses with peers, whereas, informal assessments may be used if the objective is to measure an individual’s ability against a pre-established criterion to indicate how well he knows the specific content domain that is covered by the test.

There are several methods by which informal assessments can be done. They are as follows:
1. Observation- enables teachers to identify children’s behavior and document performance before making decisions. This may be done by looking/ watching children in a systematic way.
2. Anecdotal record- provides insight into a particular behavior and may be a basis for planning a specific teaching strategy. Teachers can give a brief written description of student behavior at one time.
3. Running Record- helps obtain a more detailed insight into a behavior over a period of time. Teachers may focus on a sequence of events that occurs over time.
4. Event Sampling- helps identify when a child displays particular behavior and helps answer the question, ” Does the child do something all the time or just at certain times and events?”. Teachers may record particular events or behaviors at specific time intervals.
5. Rating Scale- enables teachers to record data when children are observed. Teachers may have a list of descriptors for a set of behaviors.
6. Checklist- enables teachers to observe easily and check off what children know and are able to do
7. Work Sample- provides concrete sample of learning and can show growth and achievement over time
8. Portfolio- provides documentation of a child’s achievement in specific areas over time and can include test scores, writing etc. Teachers may collect sample works of children.
9. Interview- allows children to explain behavior, work samples or particular answers. Teachers may engage children in discussion through questions.

b) What are some characteristics of good formal assessments? …of good informal assessments?

Some characteristics of formal assessments are:
a. They are data- driven.
b. They usually produce a written document such as a paper or test.
c. They usually receive a numerical score or grade.
d. They often contribute to a student’s final grade for a unit or course of study.

Some characteristics of informal assessments are:
a. They are unplanned.
b. They have no strict rules for administration.
c. They have no strict rules for interpretation.
d. They rely on the teacher’s judgement.
e. They are subject to modification during testing.

c) When are informal assessments useful (versus formal assessments)? How valuable are informal assessments? Can informal assessments be good ”replacements” for formal assessments?

I find that at times, informal assessments can be a better measure of one’s true skills or abilities as they have no need for a lot of planning, instead, data is received from students immediately and then planning comes afterwards. For example, after reading a story, a teacher may ask questions regarding what has been read. Those students who are able to answer the questions correctly show a clear sign of good comprehension. From there, the teacher may devise other plans on how she may get the rest of the students to understand the same story that was read. It is for this reason that I find informal assessments to be valuable as they can immediately indicate what students can actually do or perform.

Having said that though, I do not feel that an informal assessment should serve as a replacement for formal assessments. I say this because, formal assessments are useful tools that provide concrete and measurable evidences of learning especially when these assessments are constructed flawlessly. They have the ability to provide accurate data through the use of written documents ( paper or test results) that help determine one’s overall achievement and to compare that person’s achievement against others of the same age or grade.

d) How would reflective teaching skills enhance the effectiveness of informal assessment in facilitating teaching-learning? (What does it mean to reflect about teaching?)

Reflective teaching is a process in which a teacher examines her teaching practices/ strategies to determine how she may improve or modify these practices for better student learning outcomes. It is through this process that a teacher can reflect on whether her methods agree with what her students need. As teachers, it is our responsibility to not only teach but to identify how each of our students can best learn from us. We have to not only be concerned about “what” we teach them but to also be aware of “how” they can best learn from us.

References:
Information taken from the following websites:

http://www.education.com/reference/article/informal-methods-assessment/
http://www.slideshare.net/mobile/MSiiM/lang-ass-formal-informal
http://education-portal.com/academy/lesson/what-is-reflective-teaching-definition-methods-quiz.html#lesson

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