Learning to become Effective Assessors

An interactive half-day workshop held at the main campus offered insights into how and why exam questions are formulated.

The workshop on ‘Using Bloom’s Taxonomy for Teaching and Testing’ was conducted by School of Education, Languages and Communications dean Assoc Prof Dr Malachi Edwin Vethamani to help the academics become effective assessors. The participants were exposed to the different types of questions they can ask in an examination.

Dr Edwin said that “questioning enables teachers to judge the effectiveness of instruction” and that “the complexity of questions determines the ability to measure the level of students’ understanding.”

Dr Edwin conducts the workshp.

Dr Edwin conducts the workshp.

During the workshop, they looked at actual questions brought by the academics to judge the strengths and weakness in the test items or assignments. The academics were taught to examine their examinations strategies and see how they could develop questions that actually tested what was intended.

Among the tips given by Dr Edwin were: “There should be a fair distribution of the different types of questions; questions should be set at the appropriate level of difficulty; an answer key prepared for all the questions; a marking scheme devised for allocation of marks; allocation of marks should be appropriate to the level of difficulty of questions; and appropriate time should be allocated for each question.”

A registry staff involved in examinations said the workshop was informative as it allowed her to have a clearer perspective of the whole process of formulating and setting examination questions.

Meanwhile senior librarian Farzanah Ali Hassan quipped, “As a CeMBA student, I can now see why sometimes the questions are so basic and other times rather difficult as the questions set must cover what we learn in our course materials.”

School of Science and Technology adjunct course coordinator Kevin Tan Pooi Soo said the workshop was good as sometimes academics may set questions without thinking. “I learnt quite a bit about the different levels of setting questions, what key words to use and how to design questions with less ambiguity. When we set questions, we should try to answer them ourselves; only then can we know whether the students write what we expect from them.”

Participants learning about assessment.

Participants learning about assessment.

About 20 WOU staff, including from the academics, registry, library and the Penang Regional Office, attended the workshop.