Chapter 5. Assessment

Instructor/Student Critique

The instructor leads a group discussion in an instructor/student critique in which members of the class are invited to offer criticism of a performance. This method should be controlled carefully and directed with a clear purpose. It should be organized, and not allowed to degenerate into a random free-for-all.

Student-Led Critique

The instructor asks a student to lead the assessment in a student-led critique. The instructor can specify the pattern of organization and the techniques or can leave it to the discretion of the student leader. Because of the inexperience of the participants in the lesson area, student-led assessments may not be efficient, but they can generate student interest and learning and, on the whole, be effective.

Small Group Critique

For the small group critique, the class is divided into small groups, each assigned a specific area to analyze. Each group must present its findings to the class. It is desirable for the instructor to furnish the criteria and guidelines. The combined reports from the groups can result in a comprehensive assessment.

Individual Student Critique by Another Student

The instructor may require another student to present the entire assessment. A variation is for the instructor to ask a number of students questions about the manner and quality of performance. Discussion of the performance and of the assessment can often allow the group to accept more ownership of the ideas expressed. As with all assessments incorporating student participation, it is important that the instructor maintain firm control over the process.


A student critiques personal performance in a self-critique. Like all other methods, a self-critique must be controlled and supervised by the instructor.

Written Critique

A written critique has three advantages. First, the instructor can devote more time and thought to it than to an oral assessment in the classroom. Second, students can keep written assessments and refer to them whenever they wish. Third, when the instructor requires all students to write an assessment of a performance, the student-performer has the permanent record of the suggestions, recommendations, and opinions of all the other students. The disadvantage of a written assessment is that other members of the class do not benefit.

Whatever the type of critique, the instructor must resolve controversial issues and correct erroneous impressions. The instructor must make allowances for the studentsí relative inexperience. Normally, the instructor should reserve time at the end of the student assessment to cover those areas that might have been omitted, not emphasized sufficiently, or considered worth repeating.

Oral Assessment

The most common means of assessment is direct or indirect oral questioning of students by the instructor. Questions may be loosely classified as fact questions and HOTS questions. The answer to a fact question is based on memory or recall. This type of question usually concerns who, what, when, and where. HOTS questions involve why or how, and require the student to combine knowledge of facts with an ability to analyze situations, solve problems, and arrive at conclusions.

Proper quizzing by the instructor can have a number of desirable results:

  • Reveals the effectiveness of the instructorís training methods
  • Checks student retention of what has been learned
  • Reviews material already presented to the student
  • Can be used to retain student interest and stimulate thinking
  • Emphasizes the important points of training
  • Identifies points that need more emphasis
  • Checks student comprehension of what has been learned
  • Promotes active student participation, which is important to effective learning

Characteristics of Effective Questions

The instructor should devise and write pertinent questions in advance. One method is to place them in the lesson plan. Prepared questions merely serve as a framework, and as the lesson progresses, should be supplemented by such impromptu questions as the instructor considers appropriate. Objective questions have only one correct answer, while the answer to an open-ended HOTS question can be expressed in a variety of possible solutions.

To be effective, questions must:

  • Apply to the subject of instruction.
  • Be brief and concise, but also clear and definite.
  • Be adapted to the ability, experience, and stage of training of the students.
  • Center on only one idea (limited to who, what, when, where, how, or why, not a combination).
  • Present a challenge to the students.
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