Understanding the Difference Between Assessment and Testing

Quite often, faculty assume that they have participated in assessment by delivering quizzes and tests every semester. Tests, indeed, serve as one of the assessment methods for collecting information about student learning. However, not all tests should be counted as assessment. The purpose of most tests is to assign grades to students. They offer limited diagnostic information to identify areas for improvement.

To achieve the ultimate purpose of assessment - to improve student learning - we need to answer not only questions on how much students have learned, but also questions on how they learned and why certain results occurred. This information is obtained through techniques other than tests, including observations, surveys, interviews, performance tasks, and portfolios. Thus, assessment is a comprehensive concept, centering its endeavors on student learning, and serving the purpose of student improvement and development through a variety of ways.

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