The role and use of initial and diagnostic assessment in agreeing individual learning goals

Last Updated on 12/11/2021 by James Barron

“Diagnostic assessment informs both teacher and learner of current abilities and specific future needs.” (Machin, et al., 2016, p. 94) Before a course begins students often complete a diagnostic assessment, the results are often used to assess if the student is capable of completing the course, which group they should be in, if they need additional Maths and English lessons and if there are any additional support requirements. The record of these results may be required in the event of a dispute requiring justification of a student being on the course. In the event a student is deemed not capable of completing a course, it would be unprofessional and unfair to the student to offer them a place on the course as it would be a waste of their time. A lower level course maybe more suitable, at this point it is essential that the student’s learning goals are discussed to ensure the student understands why a particular course may be unsuitable at this time, however, it could be possible depending upon their performance within the lower level course. The “diagnostic assessment informs both us and our learners where they can best focus their attention and their energies.” (Gould & Roffey-Barentsen, 2014, p. 98)

Gould, J. & Roffey-Barentsen, J., 2014. Achieving your diploma in education and training. 1st ed. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Machin, L., Hindmarch, D., Murray, S. & Richardson, T., 2016. A Complete Guide to the Level 5 Diploma in Education & Training. Second Edition ed. St Albans: Critical Publishing.

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Author Profile

James Barron
My first experience of teaching was in 2016, when I was asked to
deliver a talk to a group of 16-year-olds on what it was like to start
your own business. I immediately knew I wanted to become more
involved in teaching but I didn’t know where to start as I had not
previously considered a career in education. A few weeks later I
agreed to teach a class of Chinese students from the Shanghai
Technical Institute of Electronics and Information, who had travelled
to the UK to learn English and Software Engineering, after that I was
hooked. Within the next few years, I taught hundreds of students of
many different nationalities, aged from 16 to 60, and from
levels 2 to 6. I focused my time teaching with Bath University and
Bath College for several more years until I felt a change was in order.
For the last few years, I have taught remotely with several private
training organisations, provided dedicated one to one coaching
sessions, provided consultancy on teaching and assessment practices
and written about my experiences as a teacher. I plan to continue
with my current activities for the foreseeable future but I’m always
open to new teaching experiences.

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