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Remember that we defined learning as "a relatively permanent change in behavior (or

behavior potential) as a result of experience or practice." Remember also that we said


maturation, or relatively permanent change as a result of biology and genetics, is the
only other explanation for relatively permanent change. That is, when a person is
different today than he or she was yesterday, or last week, or last month or last year,
etc. it is because that person either matured or learned something, or both. When both
of these occur simultaneously, in a way that is difficult to study independently, we
refer to that as development. In addition, development has the connotation of
improvement or increase in complexity or level. In reality, most of what we do in
education has both learning (i.e., providing experiences for students) and maturational
(appropriate for a given biological functioning) aspects. However, in this course we
will focus mainly on learning with less emphasis on development. The major
exception is when we study the cognitive theory of Jean Piaget.
Another important issue in the area of teaching and learning is the difference between
aptitude and achievement. By aptitude we mean the potential one has to learn and/or
develop. Aptitude is a measurement in the present that is intended to predict future
events, especially the capacity of an individual to learn (i.e., change as a result of
experience or practice.). IQ is a measure of academic aptitude. Students with higher
academic aptitude will show more achievement than students with low academic
aptitude if both are given the same quality and amount of experience or practice.
Other examples include manual dexterity, spatial, mechanical, musical, etc.
Achievement, on the other hand, refers to capacities or skills or knowledge one has
now that one did not have in the past. That is, achievement is a measurement in the
present that refers to behavior or effort or learning done in the past. It is especially
important that our educational system not mix the two. Achievement is likely the
result of specific training or experiences whereas aptitude is more likely the result of
genetic inheritance and general experiences that may or may not have been explicitly
provided to all students. If some students have been provided appropriate learning
experiences, while others have not, we should not use achievement measures as
measures of aptitude. Rather we need to provide students with specific learning
experiences, making sure that they have the prerequisite skills necessary to learn,
before we make judgments about aptitude.
Another important distinction is between instruction, assessment, and evaluation.
Remember that assessment refers to the collection of data to describe or better

understand an issue whereas evaluation refers to the comparison of data to a standard


for the purpose of judging worth or quality. Instruction is defined as "the purposeful
direction of student learning" and is one of the three major categories of teacher
classroom behavior (the other two are planning and managment.) Instruction, then, is
providing experiences for learners that will allow them to successfully move from
their present level of knowledge, skill, etc. to a desired level. It is an active process
involving both teachers and students moving towards specific desired end results. In
relation to instruction, assessment is the collection of data before, during, and after
instruction. Evaluation is the process of making judgments at these specified times.
When done before instruction we might make decisions as to a student's having the
prerequisite skills or the necessary aptitude to learn the material in the specified time
allotted. During instruction, we might make decisions about the appropriateness of the
student effort or student learning. After instruction, we can make decisions about
whether or not the student has mastered the material sufficiently to go on to the next
learning experience.
In future presentations we will discuss the concept of "What You Measure Is What
You Get" (WYMIWYG) which highlights the tendency to focus during instruction on
those outcomes you intend to measure or that will measured by some outside
individual or agency. In addition, we will discuss how the changing requirements of
the digital/information/conceptual age demand that educators revise curricula to focus
on important outcomes such as critical thinking and social skills in addition
to achievement in basic skills.
Another issue already discussed is related to reliability and validity. Both are
important for every aspect of evaluation and research. Reliability refers to the
consistency or the dependability of the data whereas validity refers to the truthfulness
or correctness of the data. As previously stated, assessment data and evaluation
decisions may be reliable (consistent) without being valid (correctly judging the truth
of the data relative to intentions.) However, the reverse is not true (i.e., data cannot be
valid if they are not reliable.)
Three issues are important for classroom assessment that is under the control of the
teacher. The first relates to what data (assessments and measures) we will use for
making judgments . The issue of traditional versus performance assessment is
important in this regard. By traditional assessment we are referring to the types of
assessments generally found in classrooms: multiple-choice, true-false, or matching

objective exams or fill-in-the-blank, short-answer, or essay exams. Performance


assessment, on the other hand, refers to data collected during the actual
accomplishment or demonstration of a particular set of skills or knowledge. A major
difference is that traditional assessment is almost always done out of context (i.e.,
separate and apart from the situation in which it will be used.) Performance
assessment, on the other hand, includes as much of the context as possible. It may be
that a student fixes an engine, or perhaps gives a speech to a group of parents. In any
case, the situation is as real as possible.
A second issue, that of formative versus summative assessment, is an issue of timing
of assessment and evaluation. Formative assessment refers to any data collection that
occurs before or during instruction. If it is done prior to instruction for the purpose of
determining a students readiness for instruction, we call that diagnostic assessment.
Summative assessment is done at the end of instruction to determine what has been
learned. There is no expectation of further instruction at that point.
The third issue is one of the most important issues in measurement and evaluation: the
difference between criterion- and norm-referenced testing. In general, criterionreferenced testing is done when we want to know how much a student knows vis-a-vis
a pre-set standard and norm-referenced testing is done when we want to know how
one student or group of students compares to other students in terms of the content or
skills being tested. It's important to be knowledgeable regarding this issues so that you
can explain test results to students and parents.
In this course, we will be integrating the issues of assessment, measurement, and
evaluation into the study of learning theory and classroom applications. It is not
enough simply to know these terms; we must also be able to apply them in the
classroom.