Assessment is the main foundation of how classroom instruction operates. According to Ormrod's definition, assessment is the process of observing a sample of student’s behavior and drawing references about the student’s knowledge and abilities. Assessment is also used to collect data on how much a student has learned in a particular subject before moving on to further topics.

It is impossible to see inside every student’s mind to see if they fully understand what they are being taught; the teacher can only see how they behave through certain actions such as questionnaires, exit cards, and fake quizzes. To have accurate data for further instruction is it critical that the assessment chosen uses behaviors that can provide reasonably accurate estimates of what students know and can do. Collecting inaccurate data can lead to students missing important concepts of the material or learning the wrong information which can only delay or weaken the amount of learning they can have in the classroom.

It is also important to realize that assessments are only tools that help teachers make decisions about their students and class instruction; they are used to guide not dictate any further decision making.

Ormrod discusses many types of assessment that can be seen in the classroom to help improve student’s learning. Notice there are 5 pairs of assessment that are compared separately instead of 10 listed techniques.


Examples of Ormrod's Assessments:

  • Informal Assessment: If a student seems to squint at the board or constantly move their head around to get a better view, it can be determined that they are having trouble seeing the board.

  • Formal Assessment: A unit test on vocabulary, or a quiz to apply a particular theory to real life problems.

  • Paper-pencil Assessment: Open-ended questions on a quiz to show student’s knowledge as opposed to simple multiple choice or true/false.

  • Performance Assessment: Presentations in front of the class about a specific subject, performing a scene of a play in English class, or performing a stanza of music in band rehearsal.

  • Traditional Assessment: Word problems in math, vocabulary quizzes, and reading comprehension tests.

  • Authentic Assessment: Portfolios with a collection of work collaborated overtime, creating a newspaper with a group, and operating machinery to make a birdhouse in wood shop.

  • Standardized Test Assessment: CMT, NJASK, and even SAT. For more information about standardized tests, make sure to visit Lauren Silverio's page on Standardized Testing.

  • Teacher-Developed Assessment: Multiplication knowledge, properly combining elements in chemistry, and the leading steps to the American Revolution. The teacher is able to make any type of assessment they prefer for this kind of date research.

  • Criterion-Reference Assessment: An even number quiz with each question worth a specific point value such as a math quiz with 50 problems, and a vocabulary test with 20 questions where the teacher would know exactly which problems a student is struggling with.

  • Norm-Referenced Assessment: How well a student’s knowledge compares with their peers either in the classroom, school, or nation. This type of assessment is based on the grade totals and data collected by many other teachers on the same learning material.

With the proper assessment, teachers are able to adapt their teaching techniques to meet their student’s needs while meeting their goals to a successful classroom. All types of assessment can be used for a teacher to identify the muddiest point of their lessons. A muddiest point is the part of a lesson that students don’t understand or can’t clearly grasp. By knowing the muddiest point, teachers are able to change their lessons to clearly explain confusing concepts before assessment even begins. The video below explains a few ways that the muddiest point can be identified by a class and how it can be cleared up for successful learning.

Classroom Assessment Techniques: The Muddiest Point
Ormrod, Jeanne E. Educational Psychology: Developing Learners. 7th Ed. Pearson: Boston. 2001. Print.

Created by Meghan Makowski- October 2013.