Assesment Glossary


Aligned: When the complexity of content is at the same level for: the curriculum, the instruction and the assessment.

Assessment: Evidence of student learning

 Authentic Assessment: Asking the learner to demonstrate their knowledge in a “real world” scenario. An example might be to “parallel park the car” as opposed to asking the learner to describe what is involved in parallel parking.

 Cognitive Assessment: These are tasks that assess cognitive ability such as memory, problem solving and other intellectual functioning. Traditional exams and essays are examples of cognitive assessments.

 Curriculum: WHAT we plan on teaching

 Discrimination: This relates to the ability to differentiate between marks/grades. If one learner got 2/3 and another got 2.5/3 on an item can we articulate why? If not, then the item lacks effectiveness.

 Formal Assessment: Assessment in which a mark is allocated, as opposed to simply providing feedback about a learner’s progress.

 Formative Assessment: Feedback to the learner about his or her progress throughout the course (i.e. not at the end of the learning).

 Informal Assessment: No marks are given – feedback is provided on the learner’s progress – can be done individually or as a group/class.

 Instruction: HOW we teach the curriculum

 Item: These are often referred to as exam “questions” but technically, an item on an exam is not always a question. Consider the following example: Provide the definitions for the following terms: (this is not a “question”)

Reliability: This term relates to validity. While validity refers to accuracy of an assessment, reliability suggests that that assessment will ALWAYS give us the same results. When you go to the gas station and put 25 litres of gas in your car today, do you trust that it is the same amount as when you filled it with 25 litres last week? Then the measurement of 25 litres is a reliable measurement. When we are building a well-aligned course our assessment strategies must be reliable as well as valid.

 Summative Assessment: Assessment that provides a mark (or a decision – e.g. pass/fail) at the end of the learning.

 Validity: An assessment is valid when what we are attempting to measure is ACTUALLY what we are measuring. For example, when our doctor uses a blood pressure monitor on our arm and determines whether we have high, low or normal blood pressure, he or she (and we!) trust that test to be valid – it gives a true and accurate measurement of our blood pressure. If it gave a different reading each time, then we would say the results of that instrument are invalid. Validity relates to reliability. When we are building a well-aligned course our assessment strategies must be valid as well as reliable.


About Karin Potgieter

Originally from South Africa, I have been privileged to enjoy the beautiful lifestyle of Canada. My career in Early Childhood Education has been motivating, ranging from the endearing relationships with the children and families of the Preschool that I owned to the inspirational interactions with my students as instructor of the Early Childhood Education Certificate Program. My qualifications include a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, Early Childhood Education Certificate, Provincial Instructors Diploma and en route to completing the Certificate in Online/eLearning Instruction.
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