NSW syllabuses and support materials promote an integrated approach to teaching, learning and assessment.
The purpose of assessment is to gather valid, reliable and useful information about student learning in order to:
- monitor student achievement in relation to outcomes
- guide future teaching and learning opportunities
- provide ongoing feedback to students to improve learning.
The type of assessment activity and the way evidence of learning will be gathered will vary, depending on the:
- outcomes being assessed
- evidence to be gathered
- teaching and learning activity
- students’ learning needs.
Students should be provided with opportunities to demonstrate their learning through a variety of assessment activities as part of an ongoing process. Whatever assessment strategies are used, it is important that activities are accessible to all students.
A range of assessment strategies may assist teachers to:
- plan for and gather valid and reliable evidence of student learning
- consider a balance between informal and formal evidence.
A range of formal and informal strategies can provide opportunities for students to demonstrate:
- the extent of their knowledge, understanding and skills
- their learning using a range of resources and stimulus material, including ICT.
The following strategies include collaborative activities, observations, and activities of a reflective nature.
Collaborative learning activities occur as a result of interaction between students engaged in the completion of a common task. Students work together, face-to-face and in or out of the classroom. They may use ICT to enable group discussion or complete collaborative tasks within their school, between schools, locally, nationally and internationally.
Assessment activities may include:
- evaluating and challenging views through group discussions
- cooperative group work, team assignments and investigations, including the allocation of specific roles and responsibilities
- group-prepared presentations on a range of topics for a variety of purposes and audiences
- group critiques/team challenges, including the use of technology to aid preparation, delivery and student accountability (eg wiki, blogs)
- mixed-ability and differentiated group activities as appropriate
- paired tasks (think–pair–share, brainstorming, email sharing and forums)
- student question/answer sets, including students creating their own content in Learning Management Systems
- student response partners, such as offering constructive feedback about student work in relation to criteria.
When collaborative activities are used for assessment purposes, evidence can be gathered about students’ ability to:
- work cooperatively as a team
- solve problems and make decisions with others
- take responsibility for individual and group learning
- think critically and creatively, and offer constructive criticism
- demonstrate cognitive skills, such as the ability to analyse, evaluate and synthesise information
- understand the roles and responsibilities of individuals in groups, including the capacity to communicate effectively within a small group.
Peer and self-assessment
Peer and self-assessment strategies can provide teachers with information to plan teaching and learning opportunities for students. Peer and self-assessment strategies can be formal or informal. Teachers may choose to incorporate peer and self-assessment into teaching, learning and assessment to assist students to develop a better understanding of themselves as learners. Peer and self-assessment can encourage students to reflect on their learning in relation to the outcomes, and recognise the next steps needed to improve their learning.
Teachers should model the appropriate language and clarify expectations for activities that incorporate peer feedback. Feedback may be oral, written or digital, and may provide an opportunity for students to develop their social, collaborative and reflective skills. Students may provide feedback to their peers about:
- what has been completed
- strengths and/or what aspects have been completed well
- suggestions to improve their work with reference to the learning and assessment intention
- alternative strategies to complete the activity.
Self-assessment and self-evaluation
Student self-assessment can help students to identify what they know, where they need to be and how to get there in their learning. Gathering information about the way students think and reflect on their learning can provide teachers with information to inform future teaching and learning. Strengthening the skills of self-assessment may enhance the ways students interpret feedback.
Self-evaluation encourages the development of metacognitive thinking as students reflect on themselves as learners and identify their learning style and how they learn best. It also encourages students to set learning goals in relation to the outcomes, identify what they have learnt and what they still need to learn, and act on feedback.
Teachers may include strategic questioning to assist students to reflect on their learning. For example:
- Do I understand the purpose of the activity?
- What do I already know about this topic?
- What other information could assist me in my understanding?
- What learning strategies do I need to complete/learn this?
- What are the criteria for improving my work?
- Do I understand the concepts I am learning?
- Can I explain the steps I took?
- Have I accomplished the goals I set for myself?
- What would I do differently next time?
- What is a question worth asking for next time?
Assessment activities may include:
- self-assessment of progress towards achieving outcomes during a series of activities or at different stages of an activity
- peer evaluation of a performance
- evaluating the contributions of individuals to a group task
- individual goal and target setting, including the use of learning logs and journals where students track thoughts, questions, activities and any revisions made over the term
- reflections on the learning processes used, including portfolios, learning logs, blogs and journals.
When peer and self-assessment and self-reflection are used for assessment purposes, evidence can be gathered about students’ ability to:
- evaluate their own work and thinking, as well as the work of others
- develop learning strategies based on their evaluation
- critique their own work and the work of others against criteria.
Teacher observations can provide information about student achievement in relation to outcomes. Evidence may be gathered and recorded formally and informally, where:
- informal observation and feedback occur during teaching and learning activities
- formal observation involves planning for an opportunity to observe specific learning outcomes.
Assessment activities may include:
- listening and viewing tasks
- teacher/student discussions or conferences
- student participation in practical activities and demonstrations
- active involvement in cooperative activities
- observation of students as they participate in and engage during learning activities, such as listening to students’ use of language and application of skills to new contexts and the integration of ICT
- strategic questioning to determine individual level of understanding
- manipulation of materials to demonstrate conceptual understanding of key concepts.
When teacher observation is used for assessment purposes, evidence can be gathered about students’ ability to:
- explain ‘how or why’
- demonstrate their understanding of key concepts
- use appropriate language for discussing their learning experiences
- apply their understanding to new contexts and situations
- communicate effectively.
Additional assessment strategies for Years 7–10:
- English Years 7–10 assessment strategies
- Mathematics Years 7–10 assessment strategies
- Science Years 7–10 assessment strategies
- History Years 7–10 assessment strategies
- Geography Years 7–10 assessment strategies
Also in assessment:
- Principles of effective assessment
- Using syllabus outcomes in standards–referenced assessment
- Assessment for, as and of learning
- Adjustments for students with special education needs
- Recording evidence
- Kindergarten – Year 6 assessment strategies
- Effective feedback
- Sample assessment for learning activities