BEFORE: What is contextualised assessment?

BEFORE (7)What is contextualised assessment?

A contextualised assessment is a type of assessment where the literacy or numeracy content is relevant to your learners because it relates to the context that you teach.

For example, the context might be:

  • A trade such as painting, horticulture or hairdressing.
  • Another vocational area such as employment skills like CV writing or interviewing.
  • A workplace context such as communicating with a supervisor
  • An ESOL context like going to the doctor.

This kind of assessment is usually relevant and appropriate for your learners because you’re assessing the key aspects of literacy and numeracy that are already right there in your programme or work.

The opposite of a contextualised assessment is a generic or non-contextualised assessment.

How could you create a contextualised assessment if you were a painting tutor?

Here’s an example of how you might go about developing a contextualised literacy assessment for a painting context. But when you’re thinking about it, see if you can put it into your own teaching context.

  1. Narrow the focus: As a painting tutor you have to teach people painting and decorating, but you need to start with what the parts of a paintbrush are. To manage this you want to narrow your focus to talking about paintbrushes and industry jargon. So you have an idea that some of your learners know some of the terms but not all of them. You also know that some terminology is technical and the words could be new to these learners. But you need to confirm your suspicions.
  2. Decide on a small set of things that your learners should know or do: Once you’ve narrowed your focus down to the parts of a paintbrush you list key vocabulary. This might include words like these: tip, belly, heel, crimp, bristles, ferrule, handle, size, synthetic.
  3. Design a short test that you can use as a pre-assessment and post-assessment. There are lots of ways to do this. And we’ll show you some examples in the next module. But for now, let’s say that your assessment requires learners match the paint brush terminology with the corresponding part on a picture of a paintbrush.
  4. Try it out with a colleague. If you can, it’s always a good idea to put any new test through its paces with a co-worker or someone who can give you some feedback. It’s an easy way of finding the bugs before you give it to your learners.
  5. Test-Teach-Test: Now you can use your new mini-assessment as a pre-assessment to get some diagnostic information about who actually knows which words. You can adjust your teaching plan to only focus on learning new and unfamiliar words that the group needs. Then when you’re ready to wrap things up you can readminister your test. This time it’s summative to the short unit of learning on paintbrushes, but it’s also formative to the larger programme that you’re teaching.

Contextualised assessments for literacy and numeracy are what we’re most interested in for this qualification and training.

The reason we like them is that in most cases contextualised assessments lend themselves to our embedded approach. They’re also easy to manage for smaller chunks of learning like in the scenario above.

We’ve got some examples coming up in the next module that you can adapt, modify or just use for inspiration when it comes to designing your own contextualised literacy and numeracy assessments.


BEFORE: What is summative assessment?


What is summative assessment and what’s it for?

Summative assessment is a type of assessment that happens at the end of a programme or unit of study. Often the focus is on achieving an outcome or determining the level of understanding. This might include a mark or grade against an expected standard.

Sometimes, you might hear tutors talk about doing a post-assessment. In the same way that a pre-assessment is another way of talking about a diagnostic test, this is another way of talking about a summative assessment.  

Now’s a good time to compare summative and formative:

Summative Assessment Formative Assessment
When does it happen? At the end of a learning activity, unit of study or programme. During a learning activity, unit of study or programme.
What’s the goal? To make a decision To improve learning and teaching
What kind of feedback? A final judgement, e.g. a mark, grade or credit A return to the teaching and learning material

The TEC Assessment tool is sometimes used as a summative assessment

If you teach a longer programme, you might be required to use the TEC assessment tool two or three times across the length of the course.

The first time you use it, you’re gaining diagnostic information. The second time, you’re measuring progress – so it’s formative assessment. Or if the second time is the last time, it’s summative.

Some longer programmes might use the Assessment Tool three times. The third and final assessment is summative.

What else…?

Summative assessments can be spread through your programme as well. In this way, a pre-assessment and matching post-assessment can act like bookends around smaller chunks of learning.

This is often more appropriate for shorter courses where you don’t have time to use the TEC Assessment tool again (or even at all).

Here’s how this approach would work:

  1. TEST: Create a contextualised assessment for your trade, vocational teaching or ESOL context. Base it on the actual needs of your learners and the demands of what you have to teach. Use it as a pre-assessment and gather some diagnostic information.
  2. TEACH: Based on what you learn about your learners’ knowledge and skills, do some teaching with your learners over a period of time making sure you target the gaps you’ve identified and prioritised.
  3. TEST: Use the same test again as a post-assessment. This test-teach-test approach means that the assessment process wraps itself around the teaching. It doesn’t have to be at the end of the programme.

A short post-assessment as part of this test-teach-test approach counts as summative to that short unit of learning.

But it’s also formative to the programme or some bigger course of study. So you’re ticking both boxes.

BEFORE: Why is formative assessment so important?


Why are formative assessment and good feedback so important

Formative assessment is super important. Here are at least three reasons why:

  • It increases learner motivation.
  • It helps people learn how to learn.
  • It helps you to fine tune your learners’ progress.

Let’s look at these… Do you remember our discussion about motivation in the first collection? The best motivation is the kind that comes from inside – when you really want to do something because you set it as a goal for yourself. That’s what we called internal or intrinsic.

The worst kind of motivation is often what we call extrinsic. That means it comes from outside of ourselves.

When someone makes you do something, that’s extrinsic. When you choose to do it yourself it’s intrinsic.

In order for you or one of your learners to really want to do something themselves, they need to believe that they can do it. In other words, they need to feel confident that they can succeed in a specific situation or complete whatever the task is.

This belief is called “self-efficacy”. You don’t need to remember the term, but you would have seen this with your own learners. Some believe that they can succeed at a task and some don’t. Often this becomes self-fulfilling.

To get to the point, good formative assessment and feedback help people increase this self-belief that they can do a task or succeed at something. And this belief permeates every aspect of our teaching and learning.

So if you shift your focus away from summative assessments (like getting credits, marks or grades for example, towards formative assessment and feedback you’re more likely to increase learner motivation. The good kind.

Other things that happen is that you also start focusing on improving your students’ awareness of how they learn.

And you start to really fine tune your teaching. All of these things make you a better teacher and your learners better learners.

Here are some other things to think about. Formative assessment and good feedback:

  • Provide positive motivation and reinforce positive self-belief.
  • Promote learning and are part of better teaching.
  • Take into account individual learner progress including things that might not be included in your official programme.
  • Are learner-centered because they require that your learners are involved
  • Focus on what’s useful to your learners right at that point in time.
  • Make it clear what good literacy and numeracy skills and behaviours are for your context.
  • Help your learners understand their own strengths and weaknesses.
  • Encourage conversations around how we learn things.
  • Allow you to explore ways to bridge the gap between where they are at now versus where they need or want to be.


BEFORE: What is formative assessment?

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What is formative assessment and what’s it for?

Formative assessment is a type of assessment that examines what a student knows and can do as they progress through a programme or unit of study.

Formative assessment can include diagnostic testing. It can also include a range of informal or formal assessments depending on who the learners are and what the context is for training.

The purpose of formative assessment is so that you can modify your teaching and learning activities to improve your students’ learning and achievements.

A lot of what happens in your classroom or training environment is often informal formative assessment. This could even be something that you’re not fully aware of.

For example, it’s probably the case that your students are continually giving you all kinds of feedback about your teaching and what they are learning. Consciously or not, you use this information to make decisions about what the next steps are for your learners.

In a nutshell, formative assessment:

  • Helps us find out what someone knows and can do, including learning gaps, as they progress through a unit of study.
  • Informs our teaching and guides learning.
  • Happens during the programme or course of study.

The TEC Assessment tool can be used for formative assessment

Earlier, we used the TEC assessment tool as an example of a diagnostic assessment. But you can also use the LNAAT for formative assessment if you use it part way through a student’s course of study.

This kind of assessment would be relevant and appropriate for learners in longer courses where there is a requirement to show learner progress in literacy and numeracy over time.

What about trades, vocational training and ESOL?

One problem is that sometimes you can’t (or shouldn’t) use the TEC Assessment Tool for formative assessment with shorter courses or with shorter chunks of trades, vocational training and ESOL. So what’s the answer?

A good solution is to design and use your own contextualised assessments. We’ll talk about these in more detail on another page. But again, just a heads up:

  • you’re going to have a go at writing and using some contextualised assessments as part of your assessment work for this qualification as well.

Once you’ve created your own assessments you can use them for formative assessment, but you can also use them as short pre-assessments for before a unit of learning, and afterwards as summative assessments.

Like we mentioned earlier. You can use a single assessment for multiple purposes. This applies to the TEC assessment tool. But it also applies to your own assessments if you design them right.

More on summative assessment next.

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.

BEFORE: What are our tools and processes?


Coming up next, there are three areas to cover when we talk about the tools and processes we have to assess literacy and numeracy.

  • Different kinds of assessments
  • The Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Tool
  • How to address environmental and affective factors

Different kinds of assessments

First, we need to talk about different kinds of assessments. And let’s also be clear on what we mean by assessment before we get too far ahead.

The term “assessment’ refers to:

  • All the tools and processes we use to provide us with information that we can then use to modify our teaching and learning activities.

Sometimes we get this feedback from activities that we undertake and sometimes we get our students to assess themselves.

The terminology below tends to pop up in any discussion about assessment. You’ll probably know some or perhaps all of these.

If you know these words and what they mean, then please treat this as revision or skip ahead.

But if you’ve never quite figured out what people mean when they talk about formative and summative, then now is the time.

Here’s what we’re going to cover. We want to make sure that you’re familiar with the following kinds of assessments:

  • Diagnostic
  • Formative
  • Summative
  • Contextualised
  • Non-contextualised
  • Self
  • Collaborative

And don’t worry if any of this terminology seems strange. We’ll cover each one and explain in plain English.

Also, keep in mind that one assessment can be used for multiple purposes. For example, depending on where you used it, a single assessment could provide both formative as well as diagnostic information.

BEFORE you teach – LN Diagnostic Assessment


Kia ora and welcome…!

Let’s pause for a very quick review. From here on you’ll need to be hands on with your learners in order to complete the coursework and assessments. But it’s good to reflect on what we’ve covered.

So far in this course, you have:

  1. Learned about the context for adult literacy and numeracy in relation to your own programme and learners.
  2. Discussed some of the relevant approaches for adult teaching and learning. This includes approaches from Te Ao Māori.
  3. Learned how to apply the Learning Progressions as a tool to map and analyse the literacy and numeracy demands of your programme.
  4. Developed some broad strategies and more specific learning outcomes for embedding literacy and numeracy.

Ok…! Moving on to where you are up to now. This is the fifth of seven collections covering the knowledge and skills you need to teach better by embedding literacy and numeracy into your training.

By the end of this fifth section, you will have covered:

  • What you need to know about literacy and numeracy assessment tools and processes including how to use these for diagnostic purposes.
  • How to analyse your learners’ results, identify strengths and needs, write literacy and numeracy-focused learning plans, and reflect on what’s working for you.

The overarching theme here relates to work that you might need to do before you teach your learners. But keep in mind this happens on at least two levels.

Sometimes there’s work that needs to be done before your learners arrive in your programme. This might include things like a broadly focused diagnostic assessment such as the TEC’s Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool.

And sometimes there are things that you need to do literally just before you want to teach some new piece of content. This could include doing very specific and contextualised diagnostics that you’ve created yourself.

Different organisations manage these processes in different ways. Some tutors do all of this themselves. Regardless of which approach your organisation takes, we’re going to cover it all here.

This next content area breaks down into five modules. Here’s what’s ahead:

5.1 What are our tools and processes?

  • Here we’ll look at the kinds of assessment tools and processes appropriate to your learners. This includes a look at different kinds of assessments including diagnostic. We’ll also talk about how to how to create a more positive environment for assessing your learners.

5.2 Just do it: Diagnostic assessment

  • This is where the rubber starts to hit the road. We’ll set you up for this, but you’ll need to conduct literacy and numeracy diagnostic assessment of your learners. We’ll look at a range of different tools you can use and adapt.

5.3 What does it all mean?

  • In this module, we’ll cover what you need to do to make sense of your learners’ literacy and numeracy diagnostic assessment results. This includes mapping your learners and working out any implications for teaching. You’ll also need to review some aspects of how you administered the assessments to your learners.

5.4 How do you write learning plans with a focus on literacy and numeracy?

  • You’ll learn how to write up learning plans showing goals, strengths, and needs.

Stay tuned for an overview of assessment tools and processes next.