The use of technology in classrooms extends beyond facilitating and enhancing instruction given by the teacher. It is also used to monitor and assess the level to which the tools are helping the students achieve their learning goals. This helps the teachers, administrators and even parents to monitor the performance of their children and whether they are making sufficient progress or not. Assessment of student learning using technology helps administrators and teachers make corrective measures where necessary and hence change the program so as to get more positive results.
Software used to assess the students can either be in built or programmed to allow the teacher and/or administrator to extract progress reports when necessary or there can be extra materials given to the students to complete and evaluated (Muir-Herzig, 2004). They can also be used to track the performance of students as well as their attendance level in the class. Software used for assessment purposes in the classroom include, SMART which allows the teachers to monitor the students’ progress with ease as well as know their level of understanding.
Technology facilitates ongoing efforts to assess student learning by generating reports within the scheduled time on the students’ progress (Muir-Herzig, 2004). This allows timely response according to the report given. This can be done by having a set of questions given to the students at the end of a certain period. In addition to this, parents can also be able to assess the results and if they are lower than expected they are able to correct the situation. The advantage of using technology to assess student learning is the timely response and the detailed reports especially if the report is generated automatically. It reduces subjective decision making that occurs when the teacher has to look at the results and make a decision about the level of progress of the student. Benchmark levels are set up to provide a standard where the student should be depending on how much they have learnt.
Formative assessment refers to ongoing evaluation of students during the course. This includes carrying out activities in class such as classroom presentation and day to day assignments given by the teacher to gauge how much the student has understood in the previous lessons (Chappuis, 2005). Formative assessment is more informal. Summative assessment refers to evaluation of a student’s performance at the end of a course or unit. This normally gives the student a grade that is taken to represent his/her overall performance in the unit. Summative assessment is more formal compared to the formative one and carries more importance since it determines whether learning goals that had been set have been met (Chappuis, 2005). They include final year tests or project. Technology can be used to facilitate both formative and informative assessment. An example is the use of PowerPoint presentations as part of both the types of assessments. Other ways in which formative and summative assessments can be integrated is through including some of the assignments given such as term papers to count towards the final assessment in a unit.
Using technology to assess students learning has both pros and cons. One of the major pros is it can be programmed to automatically generate reports and assessment tools after a certain period of time (Gibbs & Simpson, 2004). This saves time for the teachers and reduces errors made by subjective judgment. Technology also makes it possible for all parties which are interested in the assessment reports to access it when they need to. Assessment helps the teacher to gauge whether the students are progressing as they should and enables timely intervention if they are not on the right track. Using technology in assessment also ensures all students are assessed using uniform criteria (Gibbs & Simpson, 2004). However, despite all these benefits, there are some cons. This includes, the standardized system may not be suitable for all the students and those who have learning disabilities will not receive individualized attention they require when carrying out the assessments. It is also quite expensive for the school to set up the system to carry out assessment using technology in students. The students may also not be accessible to the said technology such as a computer to take the assessment tests.
Teachers should use technology to assess students to a certain extent. Due to its benefit of being able to standardize the assessment tests, they are useful in class as all students are assessed with the same criteria (Kuh, 2001). In addition the teacher can be able to compare the results with previous ones that the students had taken (Kuh, 2001). It also reduces errors that may occur when the tests are carried out manually. However, the children who require special attention should be given special considerations to ensure they are correctly assessed.