Does the Assessment Pass the Test?

Assessment is defined by the University of Alberta as “the state or condition of learning. An instructor assesses learning through both observation and measurement in an attempt to better understand students’ learning in a course. This includes collecting evidence, both graded and non-graded, about a students’ progression in the course.” As educators, we know that good assessment lets the student show, explain, demonstrate to the instructor as much as they can about the concept being assessed. However, as educators, we are also aware that this is not always possible given the number of students in each class, and the differentiation needed in each class. As a result we use assessment techniques that are quick and convenient, and hopefully give timely feedback to the student.

As a high school student, I often took finals using Scantron. Filling bubbles for multiple choice exams or maybe a few true and false questions. While there may be some value to multiple choice and true and false questions, in the end, it assessed my ability to suss out the question that was worded best, related best or I was guessing.

Even after studying, wording questions to trick students or ‘needle in a haystack questions’ is not a true assessment of students’ knowledge or abilities. As a student, I often left those exams feeling as though I did show my teachers what I knew. While I do not feel good about Scantron as a final exam assessment, this is a good way to give students quick feedback as Exit tickets, mid semester or as a check-in.

The new version of Scantron is called Zipgrade. It is still filling in bubbles, using multiple choice and true and false questions. Rather than putting the card through the scanner like you would for Scantron, Zipgrade is an app. You simply load the answers into the app and use your phone to scan the students assessment. The assessments can be analyzed by question, mean scores can be given, and grades are immediate. While this is very fast feedback, the same pros and cons exist with Scantron.

As I looked for new and fun ways to assess students, I was quickly turned onto Kahoot! I used this several times to the delight of my students. Kahoot! is still a hit with students as they feel like it is a competition and a game. However, this is not an assessment I value as it relies on the speed of the student entering their answers, it is multiple choice or true and false questions, and many students guess to ensure their speed is the quickest.

Speed matters for Kahoot! This is a ‘fun’ way to review with students before the end of a unit. Students that enjoy this way of reviewing or assessment already have a solid grasp of the content. Students that are struggling or need a moment to process the questions, do not like this game. It creates high stress levels and anxiety. They rarely see their names on the leaderboard and does not reinforce their learning.

I have tried many different ways to assess students during my career. When looking for quicker feedback, I like to use Google forms. There is an opportunity for multiple choice and true and false questions. However, I can ask students to make false questions true in a follow up statement. In the same assessment, I can also create short answer and long answer questions. I find these questions much more valuable as they give more insight into the students’ learning of the concept I am assessing. One of the most valuable questions I have been asking students during assessment recently is “Is there anything else you would like to tell me about __________ that I did not ask?”

I have found that letting students show their work, write their answers down and explain their thoughts has been the best way to truly assess their knowledge. As students get to understand my assessment process, they also understand that I really do want them to succeed! 

Assessments landscape – “Where the mind is without fear and the Head is held High”

This quote by Rabindranath Tagore comes to mind today while writing this blog on Assessments. One of my most dreaded experiences as a high school student was facing my final exams, particularly the dreaded Math assessment. The weeks leading up to the exams felt like a marathon of cramming every formula and concept, trying to stuff my brain with as much information as possible. And then, sitting through those grueling three-hour tests, feeling bogged, dizzy as I struggled to recall everything I had memorized. The anxiety was palpable, knowing that the results would determine so much of my academic future. It’s a feeling I’ll never forget, and even now, it sends chills down my spine just thinking about it……Lol. As a facilitator, I think the traditional summative assessments, like final exams, put students in a high-stakes environment where the performance is judged solely based on memorization and rote learning. For students like me, this approach can be stressful and demotivating. The fear of failure looms large, leading to anxiety and even physical symptoms like sleeplessness, nausea.

However, the 21st century transported us into the technologically advanced world of education. The emphasis on formative assessment, gamification in the Edtech world brought about empowering changes in the pedagogy of learning and evaluation. Unlike traditional assessments, which can feel like daunting obstacles, gamified learning environments are designed to be engaging, interactive, and enjoyable.

Assessment Technologies in Education: In the modern classroom, assessment technologies have become indispensable companions for educators seeking to enhance their teaching practices. The Learning Management systems have not only helped in connecting the teacher and learner but also lowered the administrative burden. The pandemic brought about more popularity for the applications like Google classroom, Zoom, MS teams, Kahoot, Mentimeters, Jamboarding etc. The learning theory of connectivism popularized these Edtech tools by emphasizing the significance of digital networks, collaboration, personalization, data-driven decision making, thereby integration the informal learning experiences with the learning process. These tools provide learners with opportunities to connect, collaborate, and engage with content in meaningful ways within digital learning environments. A few days back, my classmates in Edtech course, gave a group presentation on some wonderful assessment application like: Socrative, ZipGrade, and Mathletics. The tools were really impressive in what they could do with great effectiveness and efficiency!! The Zipgrade tool for assessment was impressive in how it eliminated extra work for teachers and gave instant feedback. And One of the most important aspects about feedback in classroom is that it should be timely, reinforcing and redirectional.  This helps teacher focus more on instructional activities. I remember how our teachers would carry bundles of papers back home or from one class to another and check them whenever they had free time. On the other hand, Socrative offers interactive quizzes, fostering active engagement, facilitating personalized learning experiences alongwith real-time feedback. Similarly, Mathletics helps students to hone their mathematical skills through gamified learning modules and adaptive assessments, catering to diverse learning styles and abilities. These tools gamify the evaluation and therefore remove the fear associated with the process of evaluation. Positive reinforcement, such as badges or rewards for completing tasks, can motivate students to engage with the material and persist in their learning.

The Shift Towards Formative Assessment:

Assessments play a large part in the learning of students and our understanding as teachers. . If evaluation finds teaching learning process satisfactory, it motivates the teachers and students to work harder for better results. And while summative assessments are important, the true understanding of learning comes from the formative kind

The assessment tools also contribute to making evaluation more formative than summative. They take away the administrative burden unlike the traditional methods of evaluation, are quick in implementation, cater to Visual, auditory and kinesthetic students equally and so it becomes easier for the facilitator/teacher to plan formative assessment. I personally feel that formative assessment lowers the fear factor amongst students and learning happens in the absence of fear. Unlike the usual end-of-term exams where students compete for higher marks; the formative assessment is about continuous feedback in bits and pieces. If evaluation finds teaching learning process satisfactory, it motivates the teachers and students to work harder for better results. This move towards formative assessment promotes growth and empowerment in learners, rather than just focusing on grades and labeling students. It’s more about the journey of learning rather than the destination of a final grade.

The technology has not only empowered the teachers but also the students. Every individual in some way is the owner of one’s education, development and growth. The organization/schools no more completely control the education process (Rigby, 2015)


Rigby, C. S. (2015). Gamification and motivation.