Basic Terminologies used in Assessment



Evaluation is a judgment by the instructor or educational researcher about whether the program or instruction has met its Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO).


A method to determine a student’s ability to complete certain tasks or demonstrate mastery of a skill or knowledge of content. Some types would be multiple choice tests, or a weekly spelling test. While it is commonly used interchangeably with assessment, or even evaluation, it can be distinguished by the fact that a test is one form of an assessment.


Grading could be considered a component of assessment, i.e., a formal, summative, final and product-oriented judgment of overall quality of worth of a student’s performance or achievement in a particular educational activity, e.g., a course. Generally, grading also employs a comparative standard of measurement and sets up a competitive relationship between those receiving the grades.


Measurement is the process of knowing about physical qualities of objects and individuals such as length, weight, height, volume, density, and so on.


The standard by which students performance is evaluated. Performance criteria help assessors maintain objectivity and provide students with important information about expectations, giving them a target or goal to strive for. (New Horizons for Learning)


Learning objectives are brief statements that describe what students will be expected to learn by the end of school year, course, unit, lesson, project, or class period. In many cases, learning objectives are the interim academic goals that teachers establish for students who are working toward meeting more comprehensive learning standards. Learning objectives are also a way to establish and articulate academic expectations for students so they know precisely what is expected of them. When learning objectives are clearly communicated to students, the reasoning goes, students will be more likely to achieve the presented goals. Conversely, when learning objectives are absent or unclear, students may not know what’s expected of them, which may then lead to confusion, frustration, or other factors that could impede the learning process.


Operational statements describing specific student behaviors that evidence the acquisition of desired knowledge, skills, abilities, capacities, attitudes or dispositions. Learning outcomes can be usefully thought of as behavioral criteria for determining whether students are achieving the educational objectives of a program, and, ultimately, whether overall program goals are being successfully met. Outcomes are sometimes treated as synonymous with objectives, though objectives are usually more general statements of what students are expected to achieve in an academic program. (Allen, Noel, Rienzi & McMillin, 2002)


Constructs vary in their ease of measurement, with some constructs being relatively easy to assess and others requiring more subtle or indirect measurement. The construct is a proposed attribute of a person that often cannot be measured directly, but can be assessed using a number of indicators or manifest variables. Constructs are also discussed under other labels, such as theoretical constructs or latent variables, which are interchangeable terms.


When important decisions are made based on test scores, it is critical to avoid bias, which may unfairly influence examinees’ scores. Bias is the presence of some characteristic of an item that results in differential performance for individuals of the same ability but from different ethnic, sex, cultural, or religious groups.

 Assessment VS.  Evaluation:

Comparison of Chracteristics
Assessment vs Evaluation
Assessment Evaluation
Cyclical – ongoing to improve learning
final to gauge quality
How learning is going
What’s been learned
Internally defined criteria/goals
Externally imposed standards
Identify areas for improvement
Arrive at an overall grade/score
Adjust as problems are clarified
Determine success or failure in reaching desired outcome

Measurement vs Evaluation

Measurement is the process of knowing about physical qualities of objects and individuals such as length, weight, height, volume, density, and so on. On the other hand there are circumstances where measurement is not possible. This is where evaluation is done on the basis of either comparison or assessment. Evaluation helps in passing judgment about policies, performances, processes, and so on.


Reliability VS. Validity

  • Reliability refers to the reproducibility of a measurement. Validity refers to the similarity between the experiment value and the true value.
  • Reliability is related with the consistency of the measurements whereas validity is focused more on how accurate the measurements are.
  • By saying “a sample is reliable,” it doesn’t mean it is valid.

• Reliability is related with precision, whereas validity is related with accuracy.



Direct measures are regularly employed to measure learning in the classroom. Direct measures are those that measure student learning by assessing actual samples of student work. Examples include: exams/tests, papers, projects, presentations, portfolios, performances, etc. Because direct measures capture what students can actually do, they are considered best for measuring levels of achievement of student learning on specific outcomes.

Indirect measures provide a less concrete view of student learning; for example, attitudes, perceptions, feelings, values, etc. Indirect measures imply student learning by employing self-reported data and reports. Indirect measures help to substantiate instances of student learning. Indirect measures include surveys, interviews, course evaluations, and reports on retention, graduation, and placement, etc. Indirect measures are best situated at program or university level assessment. These measures are commonly in conjunction with direct measures of student learning.

Norm-referenced / criterion-referenced test

Norm-referenced tests are designed to rank test takers on a “bell curve,” or a distribution of scores that resembles, when graphed, the outline of a bell—i.e., a small percentage of students performing poorly, most performing average, and a small percentage performing well.

In elementary and secondary education, criterion-referenced tests are used to evaluate whether students have learned a specific body of knowledge or acquired a specific skill set. For example, the curriculum taught in a course, academic program, or content area. If students perform at or above the established expectations—for example, by answering a certain percentage of questions correctly—they will pass the test, meet the expected standards, or be deemed “proficient.”



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