One of the most powerful ways that learning can be facilitated is by providing learners with feedback about their performance.
When positive feedback is provided, learning is reinforced. When corrective feedback is provided, learners can adjust and improve their performance on the next try.
In addition to providing learners with feedback about their performance, it’s important to assess what is being learned from the program. Assessments can highlight areas of the program that are not achieving the desired results, and may lead to program modifications and additional instruction.
The focus of August’s blog post is to introduce sound principles that should be followed when providing learners with feedback about their performance, and using informal assessments to evaluate training outcomes.
It is important to note the difference between formal and informal assessments. Formal assessments are often referred to as standardized tests. They are used to compare individuals through the use of standard scores and percentiles. Informal assessments, the topic of this post, are used to assess the outcome of instruction, and determine if additional instruction is required to achieve the desired learning objectives.
In future posts, we’ll take a more in-depth look at how to provide effective feedback as well as principles that should be followed when developing specific types of informal assessment questions and procedures.
Learner Feedback and Informal Assessments – General Rules to Follow
- Assessments are embedded throughout the learning program to continually check for learner comprehension, rather than used as a single culminating event
- Assessment strategies measure and provide information about the degree to which learners achieve the learning objectives
- The assessments require students to complete significant rather than superficial tasks, and assess important knowledge, rather than trivial information
- The assessments work together to create a complete picture of learner comprehension and progress toward the learning goal
- The assessment accurately reflects the content that was covered in the program
- Assessments check for understanding of various types of thinking skills – from rote memory and comprehension, through higher order thinking such as synthesis, application, and evaluation
- A variety of methods are used to check for learner comprehension including oral questioning, projects, observations, and self-assessments
- There are multiple opportunities for learners to receive feedback about their performance during the program
- Learners are encouraged to set goals and monitor their performance toward those goals
- Learners are encouraged to think critically and challenge that which is being taught and assessed
- Feedback is provided in a timely and constructive way, as close as possible to the response or practice opportunity
- Desired behavior is reinforced and rewarded through the use of positive and confirmatory feedback
- Corrective feedback is used in a dignified and constructive manner, and encourages learners to think
- When needed, learners receive coaching or other forms of assistance to help them achieve desired performance
- A variety of assessment strategies are employed to accommodate for learner differences and preferences
- Learners are provided with clear instruction for completing the assessments
- The assessment strategy used is appropriate for the performance being assessed
- Learners are provided with enough time to complete the assessment procedure
- The difficulty of the assessment is well matched to the ability of the learners, it is not too easy nor too difficult
- Assessment items do not include verbal clues that provide learners with the correct answer or indications of correct answers for other assessment items
Informal assessments and feedback are important components of a learning program. Positive feedback reinforces learning, and corrective feedback provides learners with information they can use to adjust and improve their performance. Informal assessments highlight the need for additional instruction, as well as opportunities to improve the program.
This blog post introduced sound principles that should be followed when providing learners with feedback and using informal assessments during a program to assess learning outcomes.