Title

Does the method of assessing affect performance? A study of the comparison between a formal and informal assessing method at Key Stage 1.

Author

V.A. Goodson MA, BA (Ed) Hons, Durham University

Design

A randomised controlled trial. Pre-test rating of spelling determined pairings of similar ability children. The children of each pair were randomly assigned, one to the control and one to the experimental group.

Setting

Urban primary school in Tyne and Wear, 1998.

Population

Two groups of fifteen Year 2 pupils from one class. 19 girls and 11 boys.

Intervention

Both groups were tested using the same spelling test in the same room, the experimental assessment immediately following the controlled assessment. Both tests took thirty minutes to complete. The ‘control’ group was tested under traditional examination conditions (a formal assessment). The ‘experimental’ group was tested in the class’ ‘normal working environment’ (informal assessment).

Data collected

The measured dependent variable was the assessment results. Pre-test spelling ability ratings were provided by the class teacher from ongoing informal assessment over the past seven months. Pupils were tested using a Ginn spelling test of 27 words.

The data collected included the spelling test result and the attitude of the subjects to the assessment.

Results

The mean score of the experimental group was significantly higher on the assessment than the mean score of the control group. The experimental group also demonstrated a higher mean of positive post test attitudes than the control group.

Test results

 

Mean

Median

Mode

Standard Deviation

Control

12.6

13

15

5.9

Experimental

16.3

16

19

5.2

(P-value calculated at 0.08; Effect size calculated at 0.65)

Attitudes of pupils to assessment

Mean of control = 3; Mean of experimental = 4.07; Standard deviation = 1.62

(T-value = 2.55; Effect size = 0.66)

Conclusion

The quantifiable analysis provides the basis for arguing a case that children at six and seven years of age may appear to perform to a higher academic standard when confronted with the informal written exercise as opposed to the formal written exercise. It is also arguable that the post exercise ‘feel good’ factor is more dynamic following the informal experience.

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