Assessment vs. Evaluation


Assess and evaluate are words closely enough related to be used in defining each other. However, there are differences in educational assessment and evaluation processes. When assessing students, instructors gather, summarize, and interpret data to determine which strategies to implement to further enhance the learning experience. They assess students’ readiness to learn, preferred learning styles, past experiences with content and barriers to learning. Assessment sources may be both subjective (self-assessment checklist) and objective (pretest). Assessment may be structured (interview) or informal (questions during lecture).

Through assessment, the instructor understands the cognitive, psychomotor and affective learning needs of the student in order to determine the next educational steps. When evaluating students, instructors gather, summarize, and interpret data to determine the student’s mastery of content and the effectiveness of the teaching strategies. They evaluate students’ understanding of new concepts, ability to perform certain skills and the evolution of values. As a formal process, evaluation occurs at preset time intervals throughout the course and curriculum. Evaluation criteria are set and agreed upon by all instructors before implementing educational activities. Students must know in advance when to expect evaluation and what criteria will be evaluated.

Through evaluation the instructor determines the effectiveness of the educational activities. The process of evaluation provides the instructor with valuable information to guide feedback to the student. The difference between assessment and evaluation lies within the intent of use. Choose assessment when you wish to determine educational strategies. Use evaluation when you want to understand your students’ performance so you can shape knowledge, belief and behavior.

Rea, Jean B. You Say Ee-ther and I Say Eyether: Clarifying Assessment and Evaluation