According to Hogan (2007), educational assessment can be defined as the documenting process that is usually done in measurable terms, skills, beliefs, knowledge, and attitudes. Assessment can either be done on an individual learner, the community of learners, or on the system of education as a whole. It is of significance to realize that the purposes and practices of assessment in educational context hinge upon the theoretical model of the researchers and practitioners, the beliefs and assumptions they make regarding the origin of knowledge, the nature of human mind, and the learning process.
By Cunningham (1998), there are two major types of assessment, namely, formative and summative assessment. The formative assessment is usually carried out from the time a student is admitted until he or she completes a course of schooling. This means, formative assessment is administered to students throughout the course, for instance right from grade level 9 to grade level 12 in the case of high school. Formative assessment is also known as educative assessment and it aids learning. Formative assessment in an educational context involves either, the learner, or the teacher to provide the feedback concerning a student’s work. This is not necessarily used for the purposes of grading. The diagnostic assessment is the usual form of formative assessment, and it is used to measure the current skills and knowledge of a student, for the teacher to easily identify the suitable strategies for learning. Students feel motivated when they score high marks in the given tests. The formative tests act as motivation agents for students during the course of schooling.
Summative assessment is administered to students at the end of the course, when it is used to assign the course grades to students in the educational context. Similar to summative assessment is the performance based assessment, and this focuses on achievement. The performance based assessment uses the free-form responses against standard questions. For example in biology, this type of assessment is very important to motivate students toward realizing their weaknesses. A clear task is identified after which the students are required to do something usually in settings involving real-world employment of skills and knowledge. Proficiency is depicted by the provision if extended responses (Wyatt-Smith & Cumming, 2009).
Either formative or summative assessment can be subjective. Subjective assessment is known as a type of questioning with varied ways of saying the correct answer. The subjective questions comprise of essays and extended-response type of questions. Subjective assessment is very important in aiding science subjects since the students need to express themselves in an autonomous way. Assessment is very important in classroom since the teacher can be able to know the level of understanding the students have attained during a given lesson. If the teacher finds that a student has not understood some parts, then he can repeat the topic or the specific part that has not been understood. Students are motivated when their scores are improved in the assessment tests, and therefore teachers use assessment to develop positive student dispositions (Cunningham, 1998).