BEFORE: What is diagnostic assessment?


What is diagnostic assessment and what’s it for?

Diagnostic assessment is a type of assessment that examines what a student knows and can do before a learning programme or smaller unit of study begins.

Because diagnostic assessment often happens at the beginning of a programme or unit of study sometimes you hear people call a diagnostic assessment a “pre-assessment”.  

Sometimes diagnostic assessment happens as part of an initial assessment. This might be when a new student is assessed before they are placed into a programme. It could also happen as part of a workplace induction.

Diagnostic assessments help us:

  • Figure out what students do and do not know about something.
  • Work out how well students can do something.
  • Decide what to focus on in our teaching.

As tutors, we can use the results of diagnostic assessments to look for strengths, identify weaknesses or challenges, and point to next steps.

For this course, we’re interested in figuring out what students might know (or not know) or be able to do (or not do) with regards to different aspects of literacy or numeracy in our trades or vocational content.

Sometimes we’re looking for gaps in their knowledge that we can help them with. At other times, we might be trying to work out how to match the level of our programme against the level of our learners.

We think that you should use the results of your diagnostic assessments to inform your learning plans. Specifically, these should be literacy and numeracy-focused learning plans for the learners that need the support.

There are lots of different ways of writing learning plans, but we have a template for you to try later in module 5.4

Just a heads up:

  • You need to use some different diagnostic tools and processes as part of your next assessment task for this course.

The TEC Assessment Tool is an example of a diagnostic assessment.

One example of a broad literacy and numeracy diagnostic assessment is the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool (LNAAT).

It’s relevant because the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) requires many organisations with learners at or below level 3 to use the LNAAT to diagnose learner literacy and numeracy needs.

Often this is a contractual requirement for your organisation. This means that tutors and managers have to use the Assessment Tool on a regular basis to report on learners’ literacy and numeracy improvements.

We’ll talk about the Assessment Tool in more detail further down, but the test items are designed specifically for a range of foundation level learners.

In this module, the focus is on knowing what diagnostic tools are and being able to supply some examples. But using the TEC assessment tool is part of this training. It’s also something that most tutors already have to do.

As part of your assessment, we’d like you to have a go at using the LNAAT with a couple of your learners. You may already be doing this. If so, that’s great.

We’ll talk about it more In the next module.

What are some other examples of diagnostics?

Other examples of diagnostic assessments could include using:

  • Learner self-assessment.
  • Your own contextualised literacy and numeracy assessments.
  • Smaller non-contextualised assessments.

We’ll also talk about each of these in more detail in a couple of pages. And because you need to have a go at using some of these different tools, we’ll give you some templates you can use or modify for your own purposes.  

The ones that we think you should be most interested in though are the contextualised assessments.

Also, as part of your assessed work for this course you’ll need to create some contextualised literacy and numeracy assessments that relate to the learning outcomes you’ve been working on.

Like before, this is just a heads up for now as the focus in this module is on knowing the tools and processes.

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

Leave a Reply