Chapter 5. Assessment

Choosing an Effective Assessment Method

When deciding how to assess student progress, aviation instructors can follow a four-step process.

  • First, determine level-of-learning objectives.
  • Second, list indicators of desired behaviors.
  • Second, list indicators of desired behaviors.
  • Fourth, develop criterion-referenced test items.

This process is useful for tests that apply to the cognitive and affective domains of learning, and also can be used for skill testing in the psychomotor domain. The development process for criterion-referenced tests follows a general-to-specific pattern. [Figure 5-4]

Instructors should be aware that authentic assessment may not be as useful as traditional assessment in the early phases of training, because the student does not have enough information about the concepts or knowledge to participate fully. As discussed in Chapter 2, The Learning Process, when exposed to a new topic, students first tend to acquire and memorize facts. As learning progresses, they begin to organize their knowledge to formulate an understanding of the things they have memorized. When students possess the knowledge needed to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate (i.e., application and correlation levels of learning), they can participate more fully in the assessment process.

Determine Level-of-Learning Objectives

The first step in developing an appropriate assessment is to state the individual objectives as general, level-of-learning objectives. The objectives should measure one of the learning levels of the cognitive, affective, or psychomotor domains described in chapter 2. The levels of cognitive learning include knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

For the understanding level, an objective could be stated as, “Describe how to perform a compression test on an aircraft reciprocating engine.” This objective requires a student to explain how to do a compression test, but not necessarily perform a compression test (application level). Further, the student would not be expected to compare the results of compression tests on different engines (application level), design a compression test for a different type of engine (correlation level), or interpret the results of the compression test (correlation level). A general level-of-learning objective is a good starting point for developing a test because it defines the scope of the learning task.

List Indicators/Samples of Desired Behaviors

The second step is to list the indicators or samples of behavior that give the best indication of the achievement of the objective. Some level of learning objectives often cannot be directly measured. As a result, behaviors that can be measured are selected in order to give the best evidence of learning. For example, if the instructor is expecting the student to display the understanding level of learning on compression testing, some of the specific test question answers should describe appropriate tools and equipment, the proper equipment setup, appropriate safety procedures, and the steps used to obtain compression readings. The overall test must be comprehensive enough to give a true representation of the learning to be measured. It is not usually feasible to measure every aspect of a level of learning objective, but by carefully choosing samples of behavior, the instructor can obtain adequate evidence of learning.

Establish Criterion Objectives

The next step in the test development process is to define criterion (performance-based) objectives. In addition to the behavior expected, criterion objectives state the conditions under which the behavior is to be performed, and the criteria that must be met. If the instructor developed performance-based objectives during the creation of lesson plans, criterion objectives have already been formulated. The criterion objective provides the framework for developing the test items used to measure the level of learning objectives. In the compression test example, a criterion objective to measure the understanding level of learning might be stated as, “The student will demonstrate understanding of compression test procedures for reciprocating aircraft engines by completing a quiz with a minimum passing score of 70 percent.”

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