Types of Assessment Methods

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Essay

What is an Essay?
An Essay is an assessment question that requires an answer in a sentence, paragraph, or short composition. Essay assessments are usually classified as subjective assessments as there are normally a variety of responses.

Structure of Essay (Trigwell, K. (1992). Information for UTS Staff on Assessment)

According to Trigwell, there are 3 standard forms of essays:

  1. Role Play Essays
    Students respond to the essay as if he/she is performing a specific role in the essay.
    For example: Write a letter to the local county council, explaining the environmental issues in the area, and requesting them to produce some measures; giving evidences and social arguments from government reports.
    This type of essays allows the students to become involved and see the relevance of the task.
  2. Structured Essays
    Structured Essays are essays which have specific questions or topics that require answers.
    For example: In Shakespeare’s play – Hamlet, discuss and compare some of the soliloquies in terms of its style, syntax and imagery.
    This type of essays is useful if the assessors wish to test specific knowledge and techniques, it is also easier to mark as the assessors know what type of answers to expect.
  3. Interpretation of Data Evidence Essays
    Students are asked to write an essay based on data from a report/experiment they produced or from an external source.
    For example: Using the measurements found in the laboratory, explain and discuss the chemical reactions between the two main elements found.
    This type of essays is greatly pragmatic, using data the students collected, allowing students to reflect and analyze.

An essay (depending on the types of essays) is usually expected to consist of an

  1. Introduction/Aims/Objectives
  2. Major points and ideas explained and summarized
  3. Results/Related points/Issues/or others depending on the topic
  4. Conclusion – future work

  Declarative
Y Functioning
  Take Time to Set
Y Take Time to Answer
Y Take Time to Correct
Y Take Time to provide Feedback
Y Suitable for Large Class
  Can substitute with Computers
Y Passive
  Active
  Process Oriented Method
Y Product Oriented Method
P = Possibly    Y =Yes

Advantages of Essay Assessment
  • Essays have the ability to assess all levels of learning objectives.
  • It encourages original and creative thinking.
Disadvantages of Essay Assessment
  • Due to the subjective nature of essay assessments, grading is very unreliable even for the same assessor at different periods.
  • Grading may be influenced by other factors such as handwriting and length of response.
  • As essays are very time-consuming to answer and to correct, they are not recommended if only low-level of learning outcomes are assessed which can be assessed by multiple choices or short answer questions.
  • Although guessing is not possible in essay assessments, but “bluffing” is.
  • It is also not advisable to give the topic of the essay to the students at an early date. This may give rise to superficial learning where students concentrate all their efforts in completing the essay only.
How to design a good Essay Assessment?
  1. Let students know the assessment criteria and marking scheme, including grammar, spellings and other issues.
  2. Try to reduce ambiguity in the essay questions, clearly define the expected response such as compare, evaluate, summarize, critique etc.
  3. Do not use essays to measure knowledge or understanding that can be assessed using less time consuming assessment methods.

Marking Rubrics
There are two general grading approaches – holistic and analytic grading. Holistic approach is grading the essay as a whole. Analytic approach grades the important components of the essay and assigns marks to each component.

MARKING RUBRICS Excellent Proficient Average Poor
CONTENT
Introduction: Attitude is defined; thesis is clearly focused; subject is significant Thesis is clear; provides direction for essay Unclear; formulaic; not creative Introduction is incomplete, ineffective, or missing
Idea Development: Interesting; sophisticated; insightful Clear and Thoughtful Simplistic; uneven in quality; lacking in relevance Absent or ineffective
Support or Evidence: Detailed; accurate; convincing Sufficient and accurate Uneven Vague, missing, or inaccurate
Word Choice: Engaging and powerful choice of words Appropriate to task Uneven Limited, monotonous, inappropriate
Conclusion: Extends; connects; comments on topics Purposeful and perceptive Summarizes previously stated information Absent, incomplete, or unfocused
ORGANIZATION
Topic Sentences: Clearly related to thesis; comprehensive; incorporates effective transitions Comprehensive and logical Provides bland restatement of thesis; narrow or inaccurate Absent
Paragraph Order: Contributes to an effective argument; reinforces the content Demonstrates a clear plan Ineffective or inconsistent Random
Transitions: Effective and varied Clear and functional Mechanical Absent
MECHANICS
Sentence Structure: Complete; varied; interesting Complete and correct Variety is present; some errors are evident Repetitious; fragments and run-ons are frequent
Punctuation/Spelling: Error-free Present but do not interfere with meaning Careless or distracting Block meaning

Web Reference and Resources

Presentation Assessment

Tips for Students Presenting

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Chan C.(2009) Assessment: Essay, Assessment Resources@HKU, University of Hong Kong [http://ar.cetl.hku.hk]: Available: Accessed: DATE